A Mess Comes and Goes, but Politics Lasts Forever

Phil Murphy made the rounds of media outlets Tuesday morning, talking about snow. He called it “a mess” in many parts of New Jersey.

Snowstorms, and in fact all weather events these days, are political.

That makes it imperative for a chief executive to state the obvious about what everyone can see by looking out the window. That way, he, or she, can act as if they’re in control.

While this is certainly the norm, it really is a change from a few generations ago when political leaders saw no need to act as “weathermen.”

How governors and the like react today to bad weather is fully in step with the over-the-top TV reporting we see whenever even a mild storm is imminent.

TV reporting is one thing; politics is another.

Murphy learned that during the first year of his first term – 2018 – when the state was paralyzed by a rare, mid-November ice and snowstorm.

There really was not a tremendous amount of snow that day, but it was icy and roads clogged with traffic. There were harrowing tales about kids “trapped” in school, or on school buses for hours.

The story was the same for commuters, one of whom was Chris Christie, who publicly griped about how long it took him to get home that night.

That event quickly had the new governor, Murphy, playing defense less than a year into his term.

In an age when just about everything, including the Super Bowl, is political, that made some sense. Some sense, that is.

Despite criticism, weather forecasts really are better than they were 50 years ago. But still, this is a chancy thing, especially statewide, when you are dealing with inland areas, coastal areas and different elevations.

Forecasts are not always right.

There’s something else here. The job of the government on all levels during storms is to clear the roads as quickly as possible.

Beyond that, do people truly need the governor, or a similar figure, to tell them not to drive during heavy snow? After all, is not some snow to be expected in New Jersey in the winter? Does not common sense take hold?


Then again, probably not.

As long as a governor is going to be lambasted if a storm turns out worse than expected, he is going to respond the way we see Murphy responding.

That is, take to the airwaves every time snow is in the air. If you always warn people things are “bad,” you’re safe from criticism – sort of, at least.

As noted, Murphy said things were a “mess” this morning.

But at this writing, the snow has stopped and the skies are brightening.

A mess comes and goes, but politics lasts forever.


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