The only thing he detests more than “theatrical politics” is being momentarily routed at it by an amateur like Trump whom he disdains, especially when there’s an election on the line.
With the Republican nominee in Baton Rouge today, our leader sadly has little choice but to put down the nine iron for an afternoon and show that he cares.
This morning, President Obama received an update from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on the ongoing response and recovery efforts to the severe flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following the Secretary’s trip to the region on Thursday. During his visit, Secretary Johnson met with state and local officials, viewed the ongoing response and recovery efforts, and visited local shelters where those impacted by the flooding are receiving food and disaster-caused needs.
While in Martha’s Vineyard, the President has received updates on the situation in Louisiana, including from the DHS Secretary and the FEMA Administrator, who took separate trips there. The President today directed his team to coordinate with Louisiana officials to determine an appropriate time for him to visit, and together they have determined that the President will visit Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Tuesday, August 23rd. Additional details will be announced in the coming days. The President is mindful of the impact that his travel has on first responders and wants to ensure that his presence does not interfere with ongoing recovery efforts. He is also eager to get a first-hand look at the impact of the devastating floods, hear from more officials about the response, including how the federal government can assist and tell the people of Louisiana that the American people will be with them as they rebuild their community and come back stronger than ever.
This morning the Democratic position was that Louisiana doesn’t need political distractions. This afternoon: Leaders show up. Expect a similar shift among the media, for whom the urgency of personal presidential solidarity with natural-disaster victims on the ground waxes and wanes depending upon which party is in the White House.
Trump’s decision to visit today was smart, needless to say, and is of a piece with his surprising “regret” speech last night in trying to soften his image. The populist in the race should always be the first one among the people at a moment of crisis and he met that benchmark, helped by Hillary’s and Obama’s slow-footedness. Here are two short clips of him on the scene today in Baton Rouge. I didn’t find any video of him delivering extended remarks, which makes sense insofar as this sort of visit is supposed to be a listening tour but not so much sense insofar as a short speech with a few choice chops at the Democrats would have given the news networks something tailor-made to air tonight and over the weekend. He needs people to know that he was the first one down there; the stuff below could get overlooked by voters who don’t follow the news regularly. Then again, Trump might have been under orders from Kellyanne Conway or whoever to keep his comments short for fear that he’d attack Obama and Clinton too harshly and then would have to endure days of concern-trolling from the media about how he’d turned a moment of compassion into a partisan bloodbath. It’s a fine line between criticizing your opponent and grandstanding at a disaster site. The more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger approach to criticizing O probably would have worked, but having him keep the rhetoric to a minimum was a prudent way to go too.