President Obama doesn’t seem to have even peered out his Air Force One window to view the swelling Mississippi, a minimal show of interest for which George W. Bush was pilloried when he took a peek at the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At least Bush bothered to look.
Obama is traveling today OVER the devastation being wrought by the Mississippi in order to get to events in Texas, where he will rally his Hispanic supporters with a speech on immigration in El Paso and then head to the Lone Star state’s liberal bastion of Austin for two fundraisers.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who spoke with reporters aboard Air Force One, was asked whether Obama had bothered to get a view from above.
“I haven’t seen him do that but I haven’t been with him for the full flight so far,” Carney said.
Well, it certainly doesn’t sound like they were on the lookout for it, and it’s clear the plane is not intentionally headed over a particularly devastated area for a look-see.
Obama’s hopscotch over the Mississippi flooding is emblematic of his disaster no-show policy.
He’s currently getting slammed for visiting wildfire-plagued Texas for political purposes while refusing to grant the state disaster declaration status, which would free up federal aid. Reporters on Air Force One could see smoke rising as the plane headed into El Paso.
While he spent a brief time on the ground in Alabama after tornadoes ripped through the state late last month, he failed to even issue a public statement about tornadoes that killed dozens a few days earlier in North Carolina and the surrounding states.
Of course, the mother of all Obama disaster AWOL events was his slow and awkward response to the Gulf oil spill crisis a year ago.
Bush was criticized for waiting more than a day after Katrina struck New Orleans to return to Washington from his vacation in Texas. Instead of landing in the area, he looked out from Air Force One at the devastation in a move that was meant to show his interest, but which backfired and was used against him by those who claimed he hardly cared.
The president got to the city a couple of days later, when there was less chance he would get in the way of rescue and recovery operations.