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Where’s Barry? Not In Louisiana

My wife just came back from delivering things to Livingston Parish. “No matter how bad you think it is, the reality is worse,” she said. “The are entire subdivisions where everything people own is in a massive pile out on the curb. People look like they’ve been beaten.”

Meanwhile, on Martha’s Vineyard this week, President Obama found time in his vacation schedule to show up for a Democratic fundraiser. The AP reported: [1]

Democrats Hank Goldberg and his wife, Carol Brown Goldberg, hosted the event at their home in Chilmark, the same town where the president is renting a vacation home. About 60 Obama and Clinton supporters paid between $10,000 and $33,400 to attend the event that was held in a tent on the sprawling property. Servers wore white aprons that said, ‘‘Thank You, President Obama.’’

The proceeds will benefit Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and state parties across the country.

I suppose that tens of thousands of Louisiana flood victims lost all their “Thank You, President Obama” garments in the water. I bet that the pile of money the president raised for the Democrats — at least $600,000 by those figures, but probably considerably more — would go a long way towards buying homeless refugees clean t-shirts at Wal-mart.

Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge Advocate editorializes about the president’s absence. [2]Excerpts:

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.

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.


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.

Oh hell yes.

By the way, as far as I can tell, Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, seems to be doing a great job with this crisis.

70 Comments (Open | Close)

70 Comments To "Where’s Barry? Not In Louisiana"

#1 Comment By Aaron On August 18, 2016 @ 10:23 pm

The president can’t squeeze any political juice out of this disaster so what does he care? There is no substitute for self reliance and good neighbors.

#2 Comment By bd_rucker On August 18, 2016 @ 10:35 pm

The Louisiana governor told Rachel Maddow tonight that he would prefer for the president to not come right now because it would take away resources needed for the continued response. He said a week or ten days from now would be more helpful.

#3 Comment By Commenter Man On August 18, 2016 @ 10:37 pm

Headline on the Times-Picayune 8/18 evening:

#4 Comment By Adamant On August 18, 2016 @ 10:57 pm

I know you’re seeing the suffering face to face, but between you and your Governor one of you is incorrect. I’m not so certain the evidence is so clear as to warrant the vitriol.


But good news, Trump’s swinging by tomorrow, with the full force and fury and media circus that will follow. Let us know how much that attention helps, in terms of donations given, meals cooked, beds provided, grief consoled, etc. My presumption, as always with our political overlords and their made-for-tv shows of compassion, is that it will do exactly not a damn thing.

I remember then Gov. Clinton showing up, ostentatiously, at my hometown wrecked by floods nearly 30 years ago, to ‘feel our pain’ in the presence of the cameras. My old man, whom I had never heard use a profanity before or since muttered ‘what the f is he doing here.’ So it goes.

#5 Comment By Craig On August 18, 2016 @ 11:14 pm

I heard your Governor on TV tonight. Key points, from his own mouth:

– He has all the federal support he needs right now.

– Rattled off a long list of Federal officials who have been providing support, or been on site.

– Should Obama come? Maybe in a week or two. Having seen the security requirements for a Presidential visit (for the funerals of the officers killed recently?), he doesn’t want to divert resources. Don’t believe that? Maybe you are too cynical. Or maybe you have too much faith in the power of Obama to change things by his mere presence. Do you really need the Dog and Pony show to validate your suffering?

– Would help to have more national news coverage, mainly to goose Red Cross donations.

#6 Comment By priorities On August 18, 2016 @ 11:54 pm

Obama has more pressing business to attend to. Helping the Saudis bomb Yemen. Bombing Libya and Syria. Figuring out how many more billions to send to Israel every year and where to stash all the Syrian refugees he’s importing. Trying to sell a global trade agreement nobody wants. That’s exhausting work, and a man sometimes needs a couple of weeks to unwind on the links in some cozy elite enclave. Clearly he can’t be expected to waste his precious time on mere Americans.

#7 Comment By Anonne On August 19, 2016 @ 12:09 am

I tend to agree that now is not the time to visit, due to the security detail that would be required. That would be a wasteful use of emergency personnel and first responders, and all hands are needed on deck. Had he flown down now, other people would have called it grandstanding and sniped about how the Interstates would have to be cleared just for him, yadda yadda.

What he does need to do is use his bully pulpit to draw more attention to the issue, since the media was dragging its feet in reporting on the catastrophe. But the thing he has done, and it is the most important thing, is get competent leadership and aid in place, and that happened without any major hitches.

#8 Comment By Latvian Reader On August 19, 2016 @ 1:25 am

My sincere condolences to everyone in Louisiana but I do not see how this is a federal issue. Might as well ask the UN Secretary General to come if you want media attention and platitudes.

[NFR: Twenty parishes (counties) in Louisiana have been declared federal disaster areas. Louisiana is part of the United States, believe it or not, and Barack Obama is the president. The last time a disaster of this general magnitude struck Louisiana, the then-president, G.W. Bush, was heavily criticized for not going to Louisiana to see for himself what was happening, and to show people that the nation is behind them. One of the people who harshly criticized Bush was Barack Obama. How times change… — RD]

#9 Comment By Bama Earl On August 19, 2016 @ 8:40 am

Look, I know you’re upset right now but you’re letting your emotions effect your judgement.

1) As far as “the media isn’t covering this” claim: I live in Alabama and a good portion of the local media has been covering this since it happened. Also, NBC Nightly News has covered it for a week straight. You could argue that it deserves round the clock coverage but to say it is being ignored is false.

2) In terms of criticizing Obama for not coming down, your Governor has said that he does not want him to come right now but to wait another week or 10 days before coming down. Also, from all reports, the state of Louisiana and FEMA are doing a good job coordinating together to help those in need.

#10 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 19, 2016 @ 10:07 am

I love watching second-guessing. I also emphatically wish to continue to avoid joggling Rod’s elbows. Let us please remember that this is his home, and I challenge anyone to honestly claim the ability to be at all objective when their home is threatened even mildly. And do I really need to also remind anyone of Rod’s compassion, or his readily offered empathy?

Second-guessing, I assert, is one of our national past times. It wasn’t always so, I further opine that communication technology has brought the world to everyone’s armchair, so that would be a good reason why it is well-nigh ubiquitous in our cultural consciousness.

But here’s the one thing that will always, always raise my ire: a synonym of “guess” is “speculate”, and while it all may start out that way, it very quickly morphs into mindreading and shoving words into mouths and thoughts into minds that the shover has zero ability to confirm.

Citing actual words mitigates that somewhat, but as a perennial target myself for out-of-context quoting to make points of total non sequitur, or to assert what I was thinking when I said or wrote those out-of-context words when the full context clearly shows otherwise, I easily offer significant disrespect for the intellect and personal integrity of the people doing that.

President Obama has made his share of verbal gaffs. He was and should’ve been vilified for them. In the meantime, I offer this bit of wisdom worthy of being raise to the level of ethical stance: in the online world, silence means exactly one thing: silence. Too many are too ready to jump to using silence as negative proof of something actually being said or written, or being agreement with something someone else said or wrote.

I try to avoid self-congratulation, but I will nonetheless cite my own reputation for civility (knowing, as everyone should know, that I sometimes choose to be otherwise): it is actually rather easy given the sometimes difficult impulse control to not respond in anger. All it takes is patience, and a couple of queries or requests for clarification. It also requires one further step: respect for the other’s apparent choice to simply not respond. It could be a choice, but it could also be loss of access. True story: an online acquaintance suddenly “disappered” from a very long and heated exchange, at a point of contex where his next statements would clearly be motivated by his passion for the topic. A month later, after reams of commentary on his likely words, or his assumed anger over someone else’s words, or speculation that he was just sitting back and rubbing his hands together in a Snidely Whiplash glee over keeping people in doubt, he finally posts this simple post: my wife died. You can all go to hell.

No analogies being suggested here. No chastising of others’ rhetorical choices against some personal standard of civility, because I know better than all the rest of you that I’m really no paragon of any sort. Just a simple call to take even just a baby step in Rod’s footsteps, and have just a little empathy motivation to speculate in the direction of compassion… and if you find it impossible to do so for a high-profile person, you will have my sympathy, but you won’t get my silence as a response to second-guessing that quickly morphs into mindreading… which, by the way, has the usual random chance of 1 in 5 of being accurate.

#11 Comment By Hal Fiore On August 19, 2016 @ 10:23 am

So what you’re saying with the latest “NFR” is you don’t care what the actual officials who are dealing with the disaster want, or if it would actually hinder their response, you still gotta make political hay and demand the attention you want NOW! What a whining brat you are some times. Can’t you drop it for a few days in the face of human suffering and mortality?

BTW, I was living in Gulfport in 2005, so I know what it’s like to have an official showing up for a photo op while his incompetent appointees bungle everything. Y’all drew a better hand this time.

#12 Comment By russ On August 19, 2016 @ 10:39 am

[NFR: Twenty parishes (counties) in Louisiana have been declared federal disaster areas. Louisiana is part of the United States, believe it or not, and Barack Obama is the president. The last time a disaster of this general magnitude struck Louisiana, the then-president, G.W. Bush, was heavily criticized for not going to Louisiana to see for himself what was happening, and to show people that the nation is behind them. One of the people who harshly criticized Bush was Barack Obama. How times change… — RD]

This is very much the point, but not in a “Obama-should-be-there” way. It’s more of a “Bush-wasn’t-to-blame” (at least for lack of compassion and all that spin–the FEMA incompetence thing was fair game).

So it circles back to tilted, slanted, biased, unfair (pick your term, it doesn’t matter) media coverage that’s clear to anyone who cares to look. To me, that’s the important point here.

#13 Comment By NotFromHere On August 19, 2016 @ 10:47 am

Rod, what do you think of your governor’s comments on this? Inquiring minds want to know.

#14 Comment By Ken On August 19, 2016 @ 11:16 am

“Barry”? I understand your anger – or maybe I should say I can only imagine your anger – but I’m sorry to see you stoop to speaking disrespectfully.

#15 Comment By Observer On August 19, 2016 @ 11:30 am

(Longtime lurker but need to come out and comment)
Rod: there were four posts in a row at 10:35, 10:37, 10:57 and 11:14 pm that stated and/or linked to your governor’s comments that Pres. Obama’s presence would be a logistical nightmare right now. You approved those posts but refuse to acknowledge what your governor said. C’mon. Man up and admit you’re wrong.

[NFR: I did answer on at least one of those posts, acknowledging the governor’s comments, and saying what I thought of them. It takes me a long time to approve these comments. I can’t possibly add my own words to every one. If it means you have to read more regularly, then … read more regularly. — RD]

#16 Comment By JZ On August 19, 2016 @ 1:08 pm

Rod – What would you like the president to do? Which activities are acceptable and which aren’t over the next days of the Louisiana disaster?

BTW – I can’t stand Obama, but I always find it curious in such circumstances that people get so worked up about what this or that politician is doing during a natural disaster.

#17 Comment By IntelliWriter On August 19, 2016 @ 1:54 pm

Do you really want the president there for a photo op? I’m sure the full resources of the federal government are being dispatched. Let’s just hope the Republicans actually vote to provide aide; they had no such mercy for the victims of Sandy in the northeast.

#18 Comment By chas On August 19, 2016 @ 1:54 pm

I’m curious – this disaster aside, the area is prone to flooding. These folks are all covered by insurance aren’t they? They wouldn’t have built back in flood prone areas without it would they? Or is it simply impossible to get insurance for certain areas? I know in Hawaii you just can’t get insurance in areas where Kileua flows.

[NFR: As I keep saying, no, most of these people didn’t have flood insurance, in some cases, surely, because of irresponsibility and personal neglect, but often because this storm flooded places that have never before in recorded history flooded. — RD]

#19 Comment By Joe On August 19, 2016 @ 1:55 pm

His name isn’t Barry. It’s President Barack Obama. And he’ll be showing up in a few days to Louisiana AS SOON AS YOUR GOVERNOR CLEARS HIM TO.

#20 Comment By msnthrop On August 19, 2016 @ 4:51 pm

How about an update to this post wherein it is noted that the Gov. asked PBO not to come.

[NFR: So noted on subsequent blog entries. — RD]