It's 2016 and we have to relitigate Hurricane Katrina.
The recent floods in Louisiana have been called the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Yet you almost might not know about them. They are receiving far less coverage than Sandy received and far, far less coverage than Katrina received.
A couple things to note: Hurricane Katrina happened under George W. Bush, a Republican. Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey hardest, a state with a Republican governor, Chris Christie. But the floods are happening under President Obama, a Democrat, and in Louisiana, a state with a Democrat governor, John Bel Edwards. (Louisiana had a Democrat governor, Kathleen Blanco, when Katrina hit.)
When Bush looked out the window of Air Force One at the damage to New Orleans after Katrina hit, the media excoriated him. They accused him of not caring because the victims were disproportionately black.
The truth was that he didn't land because his motorcade would have blocked roads for necessary rescue crews. It was a good thing that Bush didn't visit on that day, while people were still picking up the pieces and finding their loved ones, but the media painted Bush as heartless.
Of course, if he had gone down for the photo-op, the media would have pointed out how his motorcade blocked those necessary rescue crews. Media gonna media.
Now we have flooding in Louisiana, and where is Obama? On vacation and golfing. Yet it's only right-leaning media outlets that are criticizing Obama for not going to Louisiana. To the extent that mainstream outlets are reporting the story at all, it is only from the "Obama is being criticized" angle. They're not doing the criticizing themselves.
The Louisiana newspaper the Advocate called on Obama to visit, as his presence wouldn't block emergency response now.
"Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good. But we don't see that as a factor now that flood waters are subsiding, even if at an agonizing pace," the paper's editorial board wrote. "It's past time for the president to pay a personal visit, showing his solidarity with suffering Americans."
So why isn't Obama visiting? And why isn't the press crucifying him for not visiting? Well, the answer to the first question comes from Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, who I normally admire as a journalist. He explains that Obama's just too cool and unswayed by the politics of photo-ops.
That would be a fine explanation if Bush was given the same justification during Katrina. The other problem with Cillizza's explanation is that Obama has absolutely visited places after natural disasters for the photo-ops. He surveyed the damage of Hurricane Sandy just two weeks before the 2012 election. There's no explaining that away as "the right thing to do" while visiting Louisiana is just politics.
Cillizza mentions that his article is about how Obama thinks of himself, not how we see him, and that he apparently sees himself above performance politics. I guess he sees himself above it all, except when it would look good right before a re-election, right?
If the mainstream media treated Obama the way it treated Bush, perhaps public trust in media wouldn't be at an all-time low and falling. But this is how it will always be. Democrats get the benefit of the doubt and long explanations for why they did or didn't do something. Republicans are just treated as uncaring.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.