In the face of disasters we have to pull together as a nation. Whether he can support that effort, or destroy it, is a true test of a President.
President Trump passed the test with flying colors, handing out food to Hurricane Harvey victims. Former President Obama, on the other hand, spent his time golfing through the Louisiana flood of 2016, according to Washington Times.
At least 40,000 homes were damaged in the Louisiana flood and, according to NOLA, 13 people died. This was no small event, but a huge tragedy deserving of a president’s attention.
Yet, then-President Obama refused to leave the golf course to visit the victims, and also refused to make a public or written statement on the matter.
Instead, then-Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, had to visit the state in his stead, as the Washington Times reported at the time.
Even CNN had a commentator express disappointment in President Obama for his failures. This was Advocate Editor Peter Kovacs, who said, “I think when you need presidential leadership, you need presidential leadership, and when you sign up to be president, you sign up for a 24/7 job.”
In it’s own coverage, The Advocate pointed out that there was one thing that Obama left this vacation for — a campaign fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.
It seems like ensuring Hillary Clinton would be his successor was more important to Barack Obama than comforting the victims of a major disaster. Even now, Obama’s actions continue to remind us what America should not be, and what we should not do in response to national disasters and tragedies. When Americans are hurting, the president should seek to help.
When a president visits the site of a disaster, he does a few things. First, he offers what comfort and optimism he can to as many victims as he can meet. The knowledge that their president cares gives hope to the many men and women who were displaced by the storm.
Second, the president gives the media something new to report on, keeping the disaster at the front of the news cycle. This drives more people to focus on the disaster, sending more relief and volunteers to the affected area.
The third effect of such a visit is perhaps the most important thing a president can do, which is model what a good American citizen, and a good person, should do during a disaster.
Obama golfed during a massive flood. Trump served food and encouraged victims of Hurricane Harvey. Is Trump showing sufficient concern?
The president is an inspirational figure to the whole nation, especially to our children. He and the first lady model the American spirit through their actions. In this case, President Trump and First Lady Melania encouraged the nation to unify, and to contribute what we are able to contribute to the victims of this tragedy.
Barack Obama couldn’t understand that the president is a moral leader of the nation as well as the executive branch. Thank God we now have a president and a first lady who are willing to take on their obligations, and go above and beyond what strict legal duty calls of them.