It’s been called “Obama’s Katrina” — a monumental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that’s resulted in scathing criticisms that the president has failed to respond as forcefully and actively as he should.
The White House has been pushing back for days against the damning accusation that President Barack Obama has entered George W. Bush territory in the aftermath of a massive oil spill that’s on course to become the worst in U.S. history.
It’s a recrimination that’s been levelled not just by conservatives like Karl Rove, curiously enough — after all, the Bush strategist had a hand in his former boss’s badly botched response to Katrina in 2005 — but also by Democrats like James Carville, the fiery former Bill Clinton strategist from New Orleans.
Obama’s accusers note that he’s travelled just twice to the region — including to Grand Isle, La., on Friday — in the 39 days since the oil spill began. Bush, on the other hand, went to the area seven times in the same time period following Katrina.
The president’s defenders, however, point out that thousands of people died or were left homeless after Katrina, and add that evacuating and sheltering citizens is a comparatively easier task than the uncharted territory of capping a gusher on the ocean floor that’s spewing millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.
“I have empathy for both presidents — Bush on Katrina and Obama in this situation,” Dr. Ralph Portier, a professor of environmental sciences at Louisiana State University, said in an interview from Baton Rouge on Friday.