Later today, President Obama will touch down in New Orleans for approximately three and a half hours, the first such visit since his election. While much of the conversation has been dominated by politics, Obama's visit illuminates the ongoing struggle.
Some are criticizing the brief visit as inadequate:
"In order for President Obama to gain a full understanding of the challenges we are facing in our recovery, he needs to extend his planned visit to New Orleans," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, said at a news conference Monday.
"There is a big difference between campaigning here as a political candidate and spending quality time here as the president. ... The people of New Orleans deserve more than a 'drive-through daiquiri' summit with the president."
But others in the GOP disagree:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has credited Obama's team with bringing a more practical and flexible approach to the reconstruction process. "There's a sense of momentum and a desire to get things done," he said in August.
When Obama became president, FEMA said there were more than 120 Louisiana reconstruction projects stalled in federal-state disputes. Since January, 76 of those have been resolved.
However, squabbling over what Obama should be doing and/or what Bush failed to do is to begin to lose sight of the larger picture here: New Orleans still has not recovered. Each article provides glimpses of the situation: firefighters still operating out of trailers, homeowners still fighting with FEMA over payments. The Louisiana Weekly took the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to discuss the rampant homelessness in the region, where it is estimated that there are 11,000 people who live in the city without a dwelling. Organizations tasked with helping people to find affordable housing are facing an uphill battle - they only received 752 housing vouchers while thousands of people continue to squat in abandoned buildings or the shells of their former homes. And we haven't even discussed other states that were decimated by Katrina.
Obama's visit is a step in the right direction, but a small one, and finding a solution to the issues plaguing New Orleans post-Katrina will take more than playing politics.
Obama Set For First Visit To New Orleans As President [LA Times]
Obama To Make First Visit To New Orleans As President [CNN]
Obama To Hear From New Orleans Residents [MSNBC]
On The Fourth Anniversary Of Katrina, New Orleans Is Still Far From Recovery [Louisiana Weekly]