The Great Flood of 2016 devastated 40,000 homes across the state of Louisiana. Sadly, 13 people have lost their lives in this historic storm, which produced up to 31 inches of rainfall in some areas over the course of four days. This is more rainfall than the City of Los Angeles experiences in four years. It was a storm that was so intense that it only happens once every one thousand years.
Emergency officials claim that the Great Flood of 2016 was the worst natural disaster in this country since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. After that storm, President Obama famously met with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to show support for the region.
This time it was a much different scenario. Despite the magnitude of the disaster, President Obama did not visit the region, in fact, he stayed on vacation at Martha’s Vineyard and played multiple rounds of golf. The images of our golf obsessed President enjoying his favorite pastime while his fellow citizens were in such pain was quite troubling to say the least.
Over the course of almost two terms, Obama has played more than 300 rounds of golf. This compares to President George W. Bush who played only two dozen rounds of golf during his two terms in office. In 2005, Bush was roundly criticized for his tardy response to the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. No one can forget the images of Bush looking out of the window of Air Force One at the devastation below. However, at least he flew over the region and eventually visited the area multiple times before the end of his presidency. In contrast, Obama did not leave Martha’s Vineyard early and did not cancel one golf game with a Hollywood star.
The media crucified Bush for his delayed response in 2005, but gave Obama a pass this year. Even Democrat Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards had to cover for Obama maintaining in an interview on MSNBC that he did not want a presidential visit at this time. He claimed it would divert resources that were needed for the recovery. However, back in 2005, during an even worse disaster, no one came to Bush’s defense. He was pilloried mercilessly for not immediately visiting the New Orleans area.
An immediate Obama visit would have been helpful because it would have highlighted the needs of the region. The area suffered a tremendous blow considering that so many of the victims did not have flood insurance as their houses had never flooded before. Unlike so many of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the victims of this disaster live in areas that are above sea level and are not considered flood zones.
At least Donald Trump and Mike Pence visited Louisiana, showing leadership and concern and giving the thousands of victims some much-needed attention. Even with the incredible magnitude of the disaster the national media moved on from the Louisiana flood and the story quickly faded from the headlines. With Trump and his running mate in the state the media spotlight returned to the plight of the many victims of this horrible natural disaster.
Trump’s visit was accompanied by an 18-wheeler of supplies that he donated to the victims. It will surely spur more donations to the agencies that are providing vital resources to the many thousands of victims who need help. By expressing his sympathy and personal concern, he also gave a boost to the people who lost everything and are in tremendous pain. By visiting the disaster area and comforting the victims, Trump acted presidential, a trait that has been in short supply for the past eight years.
While Trump was on the ground in Louisiana, Hillary Clinton was literally phoning it in, calling the Governor and tweeting a link for donations. She will visit the state in a few days, as will President Obama, finally. Clearly, Trump shamed both of them into scheduling a trip to Louisiana. It is quite sad that Obama’s first reaction was not to personally visit the region and see the damage in person, but to continue his golfing vacation.
The victims of this horrific storm deserved the full attention of their President, instead they received visits from his underlings and saw images of Barack Obama riding around in a golf cart while their homes were literally under water. This whole episode has brought back painful memories of Obama’s pitifully slow response to the BP oil spill disaster in 2010.
Some Louisiana residents speculate that the reason for the President’s negligence is that this is a state that votes Republican. It is highly doubtful that a similar catastrophe in a “Blue State” would have been handled by the President in the same way.
Who knows the real motivation for his inattention to Louisiana, but at least local residents have some good news to celebrate, Obama leaves office in five months.
Back in 1992, political consultant James Carville coined the phrase “the economy, stupid” as one of the three top campaign messages for the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.
While it was initially designed for only the Clinton staff, it eventually became the overall message of the campaign and the main rationale why the incumbent George H. W. Bush should be defeated.
Twenty-four years later, another Clinton is running for President, but this time as the de-facto incumbent. Hillary Clinton recognizes the severe economic problems in the nation; however, she vows to continue the policies of Barack Obama. Her only answer is to be more progressive than Obama. She promises to raise more taxes and expand government even more, with free college tuition and expanded Obamacare. In contrast, Donald Trump promises to cut taxes, restructure “bad” trade deals, end Obamacare, and expand domestic oil exploration. Unlike Clinton, Trump vows to protect coal industry jobs, while both candidates claim they will return more manufacturing jobs to the country.
The problem for Hillary is that millions of Americans are suffering financially and the overall economy is not doing very well. Once again, along with national security, the main issue in this presidential race will be “the economy, stupid.”
Today, the latest key indicator was announced, showing our economy grew at an anemic rate of only 1.2% in the second quarter. This was approximately half the level of growth expected by most economists. The report is especially troubling since the economy only grew by .8% in the first quarter and .9% in the last quarter of 2015. An economy in recovery should be growing at a 3% level or more, so our economy is sputtering at best.
Other indicators show serious economic problems as well. The level of home ownership in our country is now at a fifty year low, only 62.9%. The rate has been plunging ever since Barack Obama became President. Since the financial crisis of 2008, credit is much tighter and housing prices are increasing much faster than incomes. Even low mortgage rates have not succeeded in turning around the downward trend in home ownership. Buying a home used to be a major part of achieving the American dream, but today it is an unattainable fantasy for millions of people struggling in this economy.
While the President touts an unemployment rate of only 4.9%, the real picture only emerges after looking at the labor force participation rate which is only 62.7%, near a forty year low. Currently, there are almost 95 million Americans who are not in the labor force. Approximately 50 million Americans are impoverished with almost 44 million receiving food stamps.
With such economic woes, will Americans want to stay the course and elect Hillary Clinton or vote for change and support Donald Trump? In 1992, voters embraced change and elected Bill Clinton as President. If they see the economy in decline today, they will also likely reject the incumbent party and vote for Trump. It remains to be seen which candidate will have the most compelling argument, which is why the next three months will be so interesting.