The Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper, harshly criticised President Obama for not interrupting his vacation to visit the state after it was ravaged by devastating floods last week.
Louisiana is no stranger to natural disaster, having suffered through Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This time around, severe flooding in the state has left 13 dead and 40,000 homes damaged, displacing thousands of residents.
Despite these catastrophic losses, the White House has not yet announced plans for a visit to Louisiana by the president, who is currently vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard.
The Advocate was swift in calling out President Obama for his lack of action during the floods, especially given that he once criticised former President George W. Bush for his apparent apathy toward the victims of Hurricane Katrina a decade earlier.
“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,” the paper noted.
Calling Louisiana “the most anguished state in the union,” the paper also lambasted Obama for not visiting the state, despite finding time to cut his vacation short to attend a “swanky fundraiser for fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton” on Monday.
While the paper did commend Obama for his swift federal disaster declaration after the floods hit, thereby enabling the state to receive federal aid, it condemned the “optics of Obama golfing while Louisiana residents languished in flood waters,” because 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.”
While the president has not yet visited the state to survey damage and address residents, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate visited on Wednesday, while Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson went down on Thursday, with The Advocate noting that it was “heartened” by the visits.
Regardless, the paper was clear in its call for the president himself to come down, stating “a disaster this big begs for the personal presence of the president at ground zero,” and that it is imperative for him to show Louisiana residents and others affected that the nation stands in solidarity with them.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump flew to Louisiana today with his running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, to survey damages and speak to local officials and residents.
After slamming Obama for not visiting the state in its hour of need — as well as taking a few shots at the president’s golfing skills — Trump assured volunteers and officials that he stood with them.
“Our prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, and we send them our deepest condolences,” Trump said. “Though words cannot express the sadness one feels at times like this, I hope everyone in Louisiana knows that our country is praying for them and standing with them to help them in these difficult hours.”
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