After Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana on August 29, 2005 president George W. Bush was excoriated by the mainstream media for his lack of compassion as well as the racist undertones that ostensibly precipitated it. The media fanned the flames even hotter when Bush was photographed flying over New Orleans to survey the damage two days later. Hurricane Isaac struck Louisiana on August 29, 2012 inundating that state with up to 22 inches of rain. Yet President Obama waited until Monday, four days after disaster struck, to visit that state. Americans are still waiting for the Democratic president to get even a modicum of the same kind of criticism the media so willingly applied to the president Bush.
That is not to say no criticism at all was meted out. In a remarkable, albeit inadvertent testament to their own bias, several media outlets criticized Republican Mitt Romney for taking time from his campaign to visit Louisiana last Friday, one day after the GOP convention ended. The Washington Post ran a prominent story featuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who recently accused Romney of being a tax cheat, absent a shred of evidence to back up his claims.
This time Romney is a hypocrite. “It is the height of hypocrisy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to make a pretense of showing sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Isaac when their policies would leave those affected by this disaster stranded and on their own,” Reid said. “If Paul Ryan and his fellow House Republicans had succeeded in blocking disaster relief last fall, there would have been no aid for the victims of Isaac today. And Paul Ryan’s budget would gut disaster funding, making it much harder to get aid to our fellow Americans in their time of need,” he added.
That meme was picked up by the Huffington Post, which posted a bit more of Reid’s outburst and its standardized Democratic talking points. “This is yet another example of Mitt Romney’s extreme right wing agenda, which asks middle class families to sacrifice in order to protect millionaires and billionaires from paying their fair share,” Reid said. The Daily Kos referred to Romney as the “Pretend President” and called his visit to the state “an odd and self-centered distraction,” and a “photo-op” hiding the fact that Romney intends to give first responders a pink slip if he becomes president.
President Obama? “Obama has gone to great lengths to show that he is on top of the response to Isaac,” reported Reuters. “He made several references to the storm in his campaign remarks this week and said he had been in contact with various federal agencies.” For anyone inclined to check, the same thing could have been said about Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina. On August 27, 2005, two days before the storm hit, Bush was asked by then-Governor Kathleen Blanco to declare a state of emergency for the state of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina. Bush did so, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts…” The former president also freed up federal money to assist the state.