Fire and Water

A quick review of the smoldering media coverage emanating from California invariably leads to comparisons between the disasters in New Orleans and San Diego. Yet each city is as different as, well, fire and water. New Orleans is big on Dems; San Diego is big on Bush. New Orleans is a true urban city, while San Diego is… um…just picture La Jolla.

So even before the flames were extinguished, the two major political parties rushed to exploit the disparate disasters to their own ends. The more aggressive of the two appears to have prevailed in the court of public opinion. (Guess which one?) Over the weekend I heard Mr. Bush blaming Katrina on Lousiana Gov. Blanco, while extolling The Terminator’s terminating prowess.

Below the radar in the debate were the Department of Homeland Security’s digital efforts to bypass the harsh media filter to position its leadership. In the DHS’s “Leadership Journal,” Mr. Chertoff penned his optimized, tagged and RSS-enabled first-person impressions of the inferno. No way was he going to follow the same fickle fate as “Brownie.”

If anyone googles the terms “California fires” and “leadership,” he or she will stumble across Mr. Chertoff’s (SEO-infused and job-saving) prose high up in the search engine’s organic results rankings. I guess if you can’t win-over the media, just become the media.