Donald Trump brought a truckload of relief supplies to south Louisiana. Growing up in south Louisiana in a working class suburb called Chalmette, I know exactly what flooding is like.
Reasonably fair coverage from The Guardian
The post-disaster politicking got under way in earnest on Friday, as Donald Trump appeared in flood-stricken Louisiana to give his image a presidential burnish, and as the White House announced Barack Obama would tour the area next Tuesday.
A day earlier Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, had warned Trump not to show up in Louisiana “for a photo op”. Instead, he said, Trump should volunteer and make donations.
Edwards also defended the delayed visit by Obama, who has come under heavy criticism locally for not interrupting his vacation to come tour the disaster area.
The photo opportunity is a time-honored political maneuver after a natural disaster, and Trump put his own spin on it, traveling with an 18-wheel transfer truck full of supplies to hand out to crowds.
Wherever he went, he created his own television-ready crowds. In St Amant, one of the hardest-hit areas between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Trump’s convoy set up in a parking lot, and droves of people turned out to watch him hand out water bottles and diapers.
“It was really something,” said national guardsman Chris Ealy, who shook Trump’s hand. The 25-year-old seemed dazzled by his encounter with national political machinery. “I could tell they were in a hurry.”
Trump stayed about 15 minutes before the motorcade of black SUVs and motorcycles moved on. Within a few minutes the crowd had melted away.
The brevity of the spectacle didn’t matter. Trump’s target audience was watching him on television; local people will vote for him regardless.
“This is his stomping grounds,” said Greg Patterson, who was cleaning muck from his store called the Pit Stop. The idea that a billionaire from Manhattan could describe the working-class corner of Louisiana as “his stomping grounds” did not strike Patterson as contradictory.
It also leveraged regional frustration with Obama. The Baton Rouge Advocate published an editorial comparing Obama’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to George W Bush’s response to Katrina. “Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good,” it said. “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.”
Hillary was somewhere resting her tired old bones as Trump (and Mike Pence) went about their survey of the flood damage. She tweeted her usual “my heart is breaking for the victims” statement, which is her standard boilerplate language now.
Reuters also offered what I thought was fair coverage of President Trump’s trip to Louisiana.
Meanwhile, Jookos, a conservative news site, offered a story detailing how the Obama administration’s main response has been to warn Louisiana officials not to discriminate against blacks in distributing aid to flood victims.