Over the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about how quickly a politician must transition from one extreme to the next. Since Friday morning, the Governor (and every other State official and some federal officials) have been focused on responding to the flash flood disaster at a campground in the Ouachita National Forest. After torrential rains Thursday night, the Little Missouri River overflowed at the Albert Pike Recreation Area near Langley very early Friday morning, with so little warning that people were virtually swept away in their sleep. The death count has reached 18, including Arkansans and tourists from Louisiana and Texas, and three people have been declared missing.
The Governor's schedule Friday included a pet food plant expansion/jobs announcement in Dumas -- a positive thing -- after which, he departed for the site of the flooding by helicopter. As he met survivors and the families of people waiting to hear word on missing loved ones, he and the staff responded to an onslaught of local and national media inquiries. Upon returning from what had to be an exhausting and emotionally draining day, he stopped by a wedding reception. Saturday, he took the annual trip to the Pink Tomato Festival in Warren before rushing back to Little Rock for a press conference with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. That night, the Governor and First Lady had a fundraiser hosted at the home of major supporters, with a couple hundred guests. So quickly, he must shift his mindset from tending to tragedy to socializing at a party. I suppose good politicians are used to it and have a lot of experience doing it, but it seems exhausting to me.
A few links on the flooding for further reading:
www.arkansasonline.com (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) has consistent, detailed coverage
In the vein of election season, I have attached photos from last night's fundraiser below:
The event was at a beautiful west Little Rock estate. One legislator who I'll leave unnamed made the comment, "Lucky for us, they're Democrats!"
On stage with the Governor are, from left, Sen. David Pryor (yes, he was the owner of the aforementioned license plate); Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and his wife, Bobbi; Angela and Ed Moody, Sen. Mark Pryor, State Sen. Joyce Elliott, and Barbara Pryor:
Joyce Elliott speaks after the Governor introduces her as "our future Congresswoman":