I know I’ve made fun of our Big Lug, aka Chet Culver, in the governor’s office a few too many times, but I think he’s done a good job in recent weeks showing Iowans that he’s on the job when disaster strikes.
Sure, a cynic like myself has to admit there are clear political benefits for an elected official to show up for photo-ops amid the rubble or a chopper ride over swollen rivers, complete with flight jacket. And, honestly, recovery operations go on whether he or she shows up or not.
But we expect our leaders to give a damn when we’re hurting, and Culver has shown skill in that role. He’s crisscrossed the state in recent weeks, surveying the damage, lending comfort to victims and promising that state government is awake and working. Not all leaders understand the value of being on the ground (see President Bush’s Katrina fly-by), but Culver does, to his credit.
He brought his road show back to Cedar Rapids today and made strong, supportive statements, both rhetorical and practical. He once again promised a full-court relief effort, even of he has to call the Legislature back for a special session to smooth the way.
“My message to Iowans is stay strong, keep up the fight,” Culver said in a radio interview.
The true test will be what the state actually does when the cameras disappear. So far, so good. The National Guard has done critical work well and homeland security officials appear to be on top of things. Let’s hope our state bureaucrats turn out to be as enthusiastic and energetic as their boss.