[guest post by Dana]
Today found Donald Trump and Mike Pence in Louisiana where residents welcomed them to their flooded and ravaged state. Trump spent several hours talking to residents, passing out food and supplies, and encouraging those who lost their homes to the flood. It was a smart move by the campaign. The optics were great, and his presence effectively highlighted the notable absences of Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
Amusingly, given how the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post are continually littered with Trump stories of a particular sort, this one didn’t make the front-page cut.
Trump’s visit comes on the heels of a blistering editorial by Baton Rouge’s newspaper, The Advocate. The editors took President Obama to task for his hypocrisy, and for failing to visit the state in its time of need:
Now that the flood waters ravaging Louisiana are receding, it’s time for President Barack Obama to visit the most anguished state in the union.
Last week, as torrential rains brought death, destruction and misery to Louisiana, the president continued his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, a playground for the posh and well-connected.
We’ve seen this story before in Louisiana, and we don’t deserve a sequel. In 2005, a fly-over by a vacationing President George W. Bush became a symbol of official neglect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The current president was among those making political hay out of Bush’s aloofness.
[Flashback, 1964: Listen to phone conversation between Sen. Russell Long and President Johnson as the senator begs for the president’s help.]
Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good. But we don’t see that as a factor now that flood waters are subsiding, even if at an agonizing pace. It’s past time for the president to pay a personal visit, showing his solidarity with suffering Americans.
Like his predecessors, Obama has no doubt discovered that crises keep their own calendar, even when commanders-in-chief are trying to take some time off the clock. It’s an inconvenience of the presidency, but it’s what chief executives sign up for when they take the oath of office.
And if the president can interrupt his vacation for a swanky fundraiser for fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, as he did on Monday, then surely he can make time to show up for a catastrophe that’s displaced thousands.
The optics of Obama golfing while Louisiana residents languished in flood waters was striking. It evoked the precedent of the passive federal response to the state’s agony in 2005, a chapter of history no one should ever repeat.
Coincidentally, the White House announced this afternoon that President Obama would be visiting the state on Tuesday. After his vacation officially ends:
“The President is mindful of the impact that his travel has on first responders and wants to ensure that his presence does not interfere with ongoing recovery efforts,” the White House said.
“He is also eager to get a first-hand look at the impact of the devastating floods, hear from more officials about the response, including how the federal government can assist and tell the people of Louisiana that the American people will be with them as they rebuild their community and come back stronger than ever,” the White House said.
Oh, how it must have stung for someone as arrogant and smug as President Obama to be shown up by the likes of Donald Trump.
Interestingly, and also coincidentally, there is a big 70th birthday bash planned for Bill Clinton tonight on Martha’s Vineyard. Exactly where President Obama is currently vacationing and fundraising for Hillary.
As for Hillary, she has nothing on her official schedule until Monday. But lest you think she doesn’t give a rip about the crisis in Louisiana, she tweeted her concern . But even she realized that was a really lame effort, especially in light of Trump making an actual visit to the devastated region, so she upped the ante and published a Facebook post as well.
ADDED: That time Obama criticized President Bush for surveying the Katrina’s destruction from a plane and not on the ground:
We can talk about levees that couldn’t hold, a FEMA that seemed not just incompetent but paralyzed and powerless, about a president who only saw the people from the window of an airplane instead of down here on the ground.”
At 11:25 am on this bright clear day, the motorcade was on the move. We passed a few walkers and bikers who waved as the president went by.
At 11:40 am, POTUS arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club.