19 August 2016
'Barack Obama doesn't care about white people!'
It's ironic how the politics of double standards leads to people changing their standards. It happens when partisans feel entitled to criticize politicians of the other party of the same sins of omission or commission for which their politicians were criticized by the other party, even when they didn't see their politicians' action or inaction as deserving of criticism. Because George W. Bush was condemned for his perceived indifference to sufferers from the flooding after Hurricane Katrina, Republicans now condemn President Obama for remaining on vacation while Louisiana is once again devastated by floods. Because the floods weren't caused by a dramatic hurricane, the flooding in Louisiana hasn't really gotten the attention it deserves as a humanitarian crisis. For the past few days I've started to hear people complain about Obama "doing nothing" about it, and Donald Trump apparently heard those complaints. His big photo op today was going to Louisiana to meet with flood victims. I don't know how selective the pictures I've seen are, but USA Today had a good-sized montage and it looked like the big majority of people displaced, if not also at Trump's photo op, were white. To some extent a feeling among whites that they're being ignored because of their race may be fueling the fresh anger at Obama, but the criticism is self-evidently tit-for-tat partisanship in most cases. Lots of people have missed the flood story to this point simply because they didn't have a hurricane to focus on, while the newspaper websites observe that flood stories have gotten few hits compared to election and Olympics coverage. Whatever the cause for neglect, the fact of the moment is that we have a lot of Republicans clamoring for the President to do something about flood damage. I thought Republicans weren't supposed to cry for federal intervention when stuff like that happens. What would Calvin Coolidge say??? Dyed-in-the-wool Republicans may yet feel the same way, but populist Republicans, as we've learned this year, are a different breed. They do expect government to take care of them, often in an exclusive, jealous way, and so there's probably little reason to accuse those now demanding that Obama (or Hillary Clinton) do something of hypocrisy, apart from their using the Republican party as their platform.