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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Further Thoughts on Obama and New Orleans


LNW_Obama-HopeA few days ago, prompted by an article by Naomi Klein in The Nation (“New Orleans: The City That Won’t Be Ignored”), we were asking, “Where was Obama while McCain was exploiting Gustav?” On further reflection, we should acknowledge that as the hurricane was approaching and two million were evacuating, fearing Katrina II, Obama said he did not want to get in the way of the emergency preparations. Also, it was easier for McCain to join his fellow Republicans, governors Barbour and Jindal, and with help from President Bush, all of whom had an interest in the GOP’s being seen as handling the emergency effectively. A Democrat would have been unwelcome in such a setting and likely unable to help much. And Obama did send out an e-mail to his vast list of supporters titled “Help Gulf Coast residents and first responders” urging us to “give whatever you can afford, even $10, to make sure the American Red Cross has the resources to help those in the path of this storm.”

Now, we understand that Obama had to concentrate on the high-profile primaries such as Iowa and New Hampshire, etc., where he had to win to get where he is today. And we know that in the early days of the race another Democratic candidate, John Edwards, had already staked his claim on New Orleans as the ground from which to launch his anti-poverty campaign.

Still, we want to see the Obama campaign paying more attention to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast in general. He has spoken eloquently of the need for a $60 billion National Infrastructure Bank (see “Barack, You’re Totally Our Infrastructure Hero!” below), but he was in Janesville, Wisconsin, when he proposed it (Feb. 13), the week after the Louisiana primary. He could have pitched the National Infrastructure Bank from New Orleans, and we hope he’ll come back soon, and often, to speak about the growing need for infrastructure investment—as in levees and public transportation—that is being starved of funding by the war in Iraq that is costing the U.S. about $12 billion every month.

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