Biden Blames Texas Gov for Aid Delays
as Beryl Turns Trip into PR Nightmare

Capitol Inside
July 9, 2024

President Joe Biden sought to capitalize on an epic public relations disaster on Tuesday when he accused Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor of causing unspecified delays in emergency aid for Hurricane Beryl by failing to submit formal requests that have to originate with the states.

Biden told the Houston Chronicle in an exclusive interview that federal officials had supplies ready for distribution to hurricane victims but could not locate Abbott to get the process in motion. Abbott has been in Asia since late last week on a promotional tour designed to generate future investments in the Lone Star State. The governor had remained mum on a monsoon of embarrassing attention that he's received in the national and local news media in the past few days amid criticism that he shirked his duties by leaving the country when his state was the largest target in Beryl's expected path.

But Biden's portrait of the Texas response to the hurricane as incompetent and hurtful hit a nerve that sent Abbott to his social media page on X with a vehement denial. "Biden's memory fails again," Abbott contended. "Not once did he call me during Beryl. He has my number & called me on Memorial Day after tornadoes hit Texas. I've had daily calls with state & local officials during Beryl. I spoke with FEMA Admin while on our trade mission but Biden never called."

The president appeared to be messing with the Texas governor at a time when his sensibilities are high after being depicted for days as a chicken politician who ran from responsibilities when the state he was elected to lead was in danger from a storm that left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. Biden would have been the one who'd been out of touch with reality if he really didn't know where Abbott could be found despite the governor's postings on the Internet advertising the trip.

Biden's maneuvering guaranteed another wave of unflattering attention for Abbott amid claims that he made potential investors a higher priority than the health and safety of his constituents in Beryl's rampage through the eastern part of Texas after making landfall about 80 miles from Houston. Abbott delegated his duties as the leader of the hurricane response to Patrick as the acting governor for eight days while the state's top leader traveled in Europe. That's who the White House would contact presumably in the approval process for federal assistant for the summer storm with the governor who's normally in charge some 8,000 miles away from Austin on another continent during the hurricane.

Patrick offered a lukewarm defense - saying that there'd been no delays in aid by officials at any levels. But Patrick also raised the specter that he hadn't submitted a formal request for federal assistance as quickly as the White House might have expected due to local information sharing requirements for such an application. Patrick is holding down the fort while Abbott pans for gold in foreign lands. The blame for a failure to communicate in a time of crisis would squarely be on Abbott if Biden was telling the truth.

The only attention that the governor has generated from the economic development solicitation mission to Asia has been bad. Abbott may have expected better when he extolled the virtues of his home state on Monday in a special guest appearance on Monday at the home of U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg in the South Korean city of Seoul. But Goldberg wasn't the most adoring host when he failed to show for the Texas leader's speech at his residence.

Abbott ran the risk of offending allies in the oil and gas industry when he announced on X in a post on Monday that he'd met with executives from the South Korean electric vehicle technology titan SK Signet to express his gratitude for an EV charger plan they opened in Plano last year.

The EV industry - after all - is trying to kill oil and gas. Lobbyists for oil companies are suing President Joe Biden's administration in a desperation attempt to block efforts to transition the nation to electric-powered vehicles as a way to mitigate climate change. But Abbott has argued that Biden - not the big EV tech firms - is on a mission to destroy the oil business in Texas.

Beryl should be a wake-up call for climate deniers like the Texas governor and the Republicans from Austin to the nation's capital. The hurricane that Abbott missed developed earlier than other major storms in the Atlantic and Caribbean before it had. Historically warm waters at sea provided the genesis and fuel for the hurricane that the Texas governor chose to skip in favor of the promotional tour with a delegation fit more for a monarch than a state politician in terms of its size alone.

more to come ...







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