As a candidate and senator, President Obama visited New Orleans five times, said Peter Baker and Campbell Robertson in The New York Times. So there was some “frustration and impatience” in the city that it took him nine months to visit as president. Thursday’s four-hour stop was meant to assure locals that, despite the “backlog of problems” he inherited, he “would not forget about New Orleans.”
We’re “sympathetic” to residents’ “desire for substantial presidential face time,” said The Washington Post in an editorial, but Obama hasn’t been ignoring “the devastation of the Gulf Coast or the frustrations” with the recovery pace. And four years after Hurricane Katrina, there are some bright spots: four big mixed-income public-housing projects are under construction, education is better than pre-Katrina, and a new city master plan is in the works.
If that’s Obama’s pitch that he’s “not as clueless about the situation as the last president was,” said Harry Shearer in The Huffington Post, “frankly, he could have saved the jet fuel.” New Orleans needs solutions and money, not some vague and “vaporous ‘build stronger’” pledge. But hey, “hope he enjoyed his gumbo.”
There was a little spice to his town hall, said Andrew Malcolm in the Los Angeles Times. Obama defended Gov. Bobby Jindal when the crowd “began booing”—he “almost said he liked the Republican” governor, before thinking about the 2012 YouTube clips—and ably fielded a question on “why do people hate you?” from fourth-grader Terrence Scott. (watch Obama's response)
We’re thankful Obama visited, said the New Orleans Times-Picayune in an editorial. He vowed to keep our recovery a “top priority,” and “it was a comfort to hear him say so.” But it was also important for him to see the state of our recovery first-hand. His visit to a rebuilt Lower Ninth Ward grade school gave him “a hint of the education renaissance” here, but he also saw the “government’s failures in Katrina.” Now, some “urgency” would be nice.