Friday, October 16, 2009

I agree with Eugene Robinson about President Obama's visit to New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina was the one event that unraveled the Bush Administration. This horrible event unmasked what the Bush White House was all about and Bush lost the independent voters for the Republican Party by their uncaring, insensitive, don't carish attitude towards the people of the Gulf Region. We, Americans watched in horror as New Orleans unraveled and the Super Dome became a death trap, all LIVE on television. To this DAY, I will never forget the reporting of Jeanne Meserve, CNN, it was dark, night fall and she literally had to keep it together as you heard screams, cries for help, people trapped in flooded homes, etc. I will never, ever forget her reporting it brought streaming tears to my eyes.

Hurricane Katrina hardened Americans towards the Bush Administration and their total disarray and unpreparedness for what happened. And who can forget as President Bush was in a hangar in Alabama, telling the television crew that, "Brownie you're doing a hellava job." When the reality on the ground was that Brownie was not doing SHIT as FEMA Director. How can one forget how long it TOOK FEMA to get water, food, transportation into New Orleans and the hard hit parts of Mississippi? Who can forget Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans telling the federal goverment to, "Get off your asses"!!

The Republicans with Bush paid a price for their horrible handling of Hurricane Katrina and their lack of empathy and sensitivity. Now, President Obama who blasted the Bush Administration for their reckless handling of Hurricane Katrina, came into New Orleans, yesterday for a quick drive by. When I read he was only going to be there four hours, my first inclination was, "Who set this up?" Especially, when he left to go to a glitzy fundraiser in San Francisco? Obama White House, don't ever do this again. That whole Gulf Region is STILL A DISASTER AREA, it warrants more than a four hour drive by, while you are picking up gumbo, President Obama.

President Obama's brief display of drive-by compassion Thursday in New Orleans was, for me, by far the worst outing of his presidency thus far -- and the biggest disappointment.

I covered Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath -- the flood in New Orleans that drowned a great city, the storm surge in Mississippi that erased whole communities, the devastation, the agony. For weeks afterwards, I had trouble sleeping. I couldn't forget the scenes I'd witnessed or the stories I'd heard.

More than a year later, I covered a Senate subcommittee hearing in New Orleans on the lagging reconstruction effort. I watched as a young senator who was thought to be considering a presidential run -- that would be Barack Obama -- used his Harvard Law skills to eviscerate Bush-era officials for not doing enough to rebuild and revive the Gulf Coast region.
So it was strange and disheartening that Obama would wait nine months to make his first visit to New Orleans as president. It was stunning that he would spend only a few hours on the ground and that he wouldn't set foot in Mississippi or Alabama at all. But worst of all was the way he seemed to dismiss the idea that his administration could and should be doing much more.

I know that local officials say the Obama administration is more responsive and more effective than the Bush administration, but that's not saying much. What says more is that New Orleans still doesn't have an operational full-service hospital. And that an adequate flood barrier is still not in place.

"I wish I could just write a check," Obama said. If that was his message, he should have stayed home. We now know that our government can make hundreds of billions of dollars available to irresponsible Wall Street institutions within a matter of days, if necessary. We can open up the floodgates of credit to too-big-to-fail banks at the stroke of a pen. But when it comes to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, well, these things take time.

I doubt these are the priorities Obama wants to be remembered for.


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