Obama Makes New Orleans Miss President Bush [Updated]

There’s quite a remarkable story in today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune. I wish I could cut and paste it in its entirety.

It’s the story of two very different men that we chose to lead our country, and how, in the unlikely setting of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we have a chance to compare and contrast their characters.

The world knows one as a blue-blooded faux Texan, bumbling idiot, spoiled child of privilege and draft dodger. The other is a compassionate man of the people who will soon join Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer and Nelson Mandela in the Pantheon of recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace.


Say what you will about former President George W. Bush and his administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath — the man knew how to put together a post-Katrina White House visit to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

They were exhaustive, exhausting, sunup-to-sundown, sometimes multiday and multistate affairs. And there were a lot of them: 13 in all to the New Orleans area in the three years after the storm. …

“He wanted to hear multiple voices from across the community on a one-on-one level,” recalled [retired Marine Gen. Douglas] O’Dell, who said Bush packed every crevice of his visit with interactions with people of every stripe. “He made unbelievable use of his time,” said O’Dell.[O’Dell served as the second coordinator of the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding under President Bush.] …

Thursday will mark the first presidential visit to New Orleans since Bush’s last, which he made just ahead of the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in August 2008, and, according to the latest word from the White House, Obama’s visit will include a town hall event at an as yet unspecified time and location, and a second unspecified event.

“This is an iconic event — I don’t know what the hell they are thinking,” [Tulane University historian Lawrence] Powell said. “He shouldn’t come at all if he’s coming for a glorified layover.”

And then, the punch line:

“All presidents make calculations as to the value of their time,” O’Dell said. “This may be the (White House Chief of Staff) Rahm Emanuel treatment: ‘You didn’t vote for us, to hell with you guys.’ That’s how this White House views things.”

[emphasis added]

Update: A new T-P article details the wrangling of the LA Congressional delegation in trying to get the Nobel Prize-winning President to extend his visit beyond a closed townhall.

Obama’s visit to New Orleans is hemmed in by an engagement the same day in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Obama is scheduled to be in San Francisco later in the day Thursday for a $500- to $1,000-a-person fundraiser at the St. Francis Hotel for the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America.