Did The White House Use Hurricane Harvey to Distract from the Sheriff Joe Pardon and Transgender Military Enrollment Ban?

It's Saturday morning here in the Midwest. A serine morning with a clear blue sky and cooler air. 

My attention, like that of many others, is captivated by news reports of Hurricane Harvey barreling down on the Texas coast. Lots of damage in Corpus Christi. Lots of flooding expected in Houston / Galveston.

Perhaps my attention is drawn to this storm more than other people. I've visited and spent time in Corpus Christi and Galveston, and I'm familiar with the locations I see on TV. And, if we're being honest, I'm a weather and disaster junkie. 

But I know I'm not alone in being temporarily distracted from a couple of other items on the president's agenda on Friday.

The first was the pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for continuing to detain suspected undocumented immigrants, despite a court order to do so. 

The second was finally putting, in writing, a ban on transgender individuals from enlisting in the military. President Trump had already signaled a ban in a Tweet. Friday he made the policy official.

With such a major event going on in the country (Harvey is the first hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland in years), one would think that preparation and response would be the top priority for the president of the United States. 

Yet, these were the items the White House deemed to be a priority despite the hurricane. Elizabeth Warren sums it up pretty well.

Warren's indignation, while perhaps self serving for someone with presidential ambitions of her own, nonetheless brings up the broader questions: why this, why now?

Aside from the rote liberal response of, "Because he's evil and prejudiced," let me add another: the White House knows it's wrong.

There's an old theory in politics that says it's best to release bad news on a Friday. People are more distracted and less engaged on the weekends. TV ratings are down. The end game is that anything controversial is less likely to stir up strong blowback if you put it out on a Friday. 

How much better with a hurricane captivating the nation's attention?

Here are a couple of things I can say about how I would operate if I were giving the president political advice:

  1. I wouldn't want anyone to question where the president's attention was during a major hurricane
  2. If I wanted people to notice a move the White House made, I would make the announcement after the weekend and outside of a major disaster event

Those two items are so common sense that what the White House actually did can only lead us to two conclusions:

  1. The White House knows these moves will cause controversy, and while they will make the president's die hard supporters happy, they want everyone else to ignore it
  2. It is so important that these announcements be under the radar that they are willing to risk having people question the president's attention to the hurricane to make it so

These aren't the moves of an administration that is operating from a place of moral high ground. They have few friends right now and want to give their die hard supporters some red meat.

I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. 

The White House is simply hoping that you'll have too many other things on your mind to care about it. 

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