First of all, let me be clear:
Yes, he's only been in office 10 months. Yes, he visited the city as a Senator and a Candidate. Yes, the vast majority of New Orleanians were startving for change, and drank deeply from the glass half full of promise and ideas of an Obama Presidency.
When the electoral votes were counted, I danced on the corner of Broad Street and Bayou Road with Vietnam veterans and Mardi Gras Indians.
In those 10 months, we have seen much positive change as a nation. I absolutely believe we are moving in the right direction after the last 8 years of absolute lunacy. I have constantly enumerated why. I also absolutely believe this will take time. I was never one to think that Obama had superhuman abilities, and I knew patience would be required. I will not be disappointed by this Administration's national moves, unlike some liberals to my left.
All that being said, I expected him to take New Orleans more seriously than a a 3 hour, 45 minute visit, with takeout from Dooky's Chase.
I mean, if you aren't even in town long enough to visit the restaurant for your gumbo, can you even really say you've been to New Orleans?
And, what about Mississippi? You're their President too, whether they like it or not.
If the GOP ever wanted to have an issue where they could point out where "Change" and "Hope" were just a marketing strategy, they don't need to make up stuff about health care reform or the stimulus, they just have to point to the federal efforts in the recovery of New Orleans.
However, they won't. They'll keep going back to the well of fantasy-land death panels and birth certificates, because an indictment of Democrats on New Orleans is an indictment against Republicans as well. Politics are about partisan gain right now, not about actually fixing things.
I've said it before, and I will say it again: New Orleans is THE crisis point for domestic issues. Public education problems? Check. Infrastructure falling apart? Bingo. Health care crisis? You betcha. Environmental disaster? In droves. Crime? Yup. Weak metal health facilities? We got that. Housing crisis (of a different nature)? Check. Incompetent federal social programs? Yessir. At-risk race relations? And how. The list could go on.
The problems here are cultural as well as political, so if you can fix them, hell, just show foundational improvement, you have a blueprint for taking on what ails the rest of the nation.
About the only "change" New Orleans has seen in a positive light is the reappointment of US Attorney Jim Letten. He's been the vanguard against the public corruption since the Bush administration. Obama ignored partisan politics and kept him in his position, which was a welcome change from the overpolitization of the Department of Justice under Bush. I was hoping, and still hope, to see more of this type of pragmatism.
There are still things to do, and sending cabinet secretaries (like Arne Duncan's visit charter schools that did not flood) or stopping in for takeout will not give an accurate assessment of what is going on here. The fundraiser in California is important, but not as important as this city.
Updates: Cliff has a more reasoned and patient view of the President's visit.
Leigh C wonders if people are too busy making goo-goo eyes at the adored President to ask the important questions.
Tim knows what he'd like to have heard. (Thanks for the Tweet! I was wondering where those links were coming from.)