Kevin, a little while ago, noted that in the inevitable battle of photo ops that has arisen from the flooding in South Louisiana it’s clear Donald Trump won.
Trump, quite possibly getting some solid advice from his new campaign manager and actual political pro Kellyanne Conway, was the first of the presidential figures to make it to Baton Rouge – and he handled his visit perfectly. He didn’t bring a ton of media with him and he was relatively low-key despite bringing his running mate Mike Pence along, he didn’t say anything bombastic or off-the-wall, he did more listening than speaking (here’s a video clip of Trump addressing a bunch of volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse pretty briefly; the others with him did a lot more talking than Trump did) and most of all he paid the price of admission by bringing along an 18-wheeler full of baby supplies, cleaning products, kids’ toys and other items.
And while that was going on, as Kevin also posted earlier, Obama’s ridiculous Department of Justice decided to issue a note haranguing Louisianans about racial discrimination among flood victims, when one of the most beautiful silver linings surrounding the floods has been the complete absence of black and white when it comes to the commitment of our people to take care of those who’ve lost so much. To call this offensive is really insufficient – it’s as close as you can get to iron proof of how out of touch the president and his administration are.
Particularly given that the “don’t you racists be racist” proclamation was issued before Obama even left the golf course to come here. Obama had been beaten up repeatedly both by Louisiana media and the national talking heads who themselves have bothered to notice Louisiana’s troubles for not making the trip; a number of us here at the Hayride have expressed that we couldn’t care less if he shows his face here, but the one thing he really needs to do is to at least show that he’s on the side of the folks who suffer. When his administration is talking about pre-emptively accusing people of racism before he even shows up, it says volumes.
Rod Dreher at The American Conservative, had a spot-on reaction to this gaffe…
If the president does manage to make it down here, he’ll surely find somebody to feed him (BRPD officers were driving around an African-American neighborhood today, delivering plates of jambalaya to black people mucking their houses), because this state is full of way better people than the likes of me. If it were up to me, I’d tell him to go to Circle K, buy himself a bag of Chee-wees, and get on back home before he’s poisoned by contact with one of us racist bitter clingers.
That reaction is almost unanimous – even in the black community. A local friend who’s a Democrat, and black, sent me a message saying that memo was the most offensive thing she’s seen in Obama’s entire eight years in office, and that she’s gone from being furious that he was on vacation to now being furious that he’s coming.
And therefore, Tuesday’s trip is already a disaster.
Nothing Obama can do or say while he’s here on Tuesday is going to make up for the fact that he partied and played golf for a whole week on Martha’s Vineyard while these people dealt with the flood, or that his administration had the gall to upbraid people about racism in treating their neighbors without any evidence this was actually happening. He didn’t give Baton Rouge the benefit of the doubt, and therefore he shouldn’t be surprised when he doesn’t get it from us.
Not to mention the utter incompetence of Obama’s team and John Bel Edwards’ team in getting their messages straight.
For a while, Edwards had given Obama plenty of cover in not coming here – he’d said, and not without some validity, that a presidential visit requires the use of a lot of local resources and logistics for security, etc., and right now Louisiana really doesn’t have much to spare. As such, it’s preferable for Obama to hang back until things calm down some.
Except Edwards made his stupid statement about Trump’s visit, saying he’s not welcome for a mere photo op, and that turned into a calamity for the narrative when Trump showed up heavy with gifts of supplies and other goods for the afflicted. Having paid the price of admission, Trump then ended up with probably the best photo op of his entire campaign and Edwards ends up looking like Scrooge McDuck in the bargain. At that point both Obama and Hillary Clinton have to scramble down here or else it’s Trump who cares about real people and the Democrats don’t.
So Obama comes here and faces a whole community which can’t stand him, because as bad as that is it’s worse than the whole country grousing that he doesn’t care. Meanwhile Hillary, to whom Edwards has tied his political fortunes, has offered little more than a tweet about how folks can click a link and give money to the Red Cross.
It’s hard to find a scenario in which the politics of a major event could have been mucked up any worse. Regardless of where he is on Tuesday, Obama ought to get on his knees and beg George W. Bush’s forgiveness for all the terrible things he said about the latter’s handling of Katrina.