Aug. 24, 2016
Because Tony Perkins, the President of Family Research Council, had his house flooded in one of the largest natural disasters to ever hit the state of Louisiana, we on the staff have paid very close attention to this event. We all know the Perkins family and feel great sorrow for their loss.
Unfortunately, the NYC-based media still show little interest in what happened there—with a few notable exceptions like Sean Hannity—even though 100,000 homes have been damaged with many thousands of people now living in shelters.
Thus it was fascinating to see Donald Trump’s newly restructured campaign pivot quickly last Friday to tour the Louisiana disaster area. Mr. Trump and Mike Pence visited the relief center established by Samaritan’s Purse at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, the church where Tony Perkins is now serving as the interim pastor. Franklin Graham, the head of Samaritan’s Purse, as also there. It was a perfect visit that raised the nation’s awareness of this human tragedy and the need for donations and volunteers. Donald Trump made no political comments while there.
I watched cable news, and the story was barely covered. The channels preferred to talk about campaign-insider nonsense. Finally, after Trump left, one network carried a short story with footage—nothing live. The coverage was totally inadequate to the seriousness of the situation in Louisiana. However, that was the way the story was treated across the board. Who cares about a fly-over country flood, I guess?
I wondered if I was the only person in America who saw what was happening, and the adept way Trump had responded to the crisis. Apparently the White House finally did, as President Obama was moved to grudgingly schedule a visit to Louisiana on Tuesday—after his vacation was over, we were told. The president toured Louisiana, and we can only hope that his visit will bring additional donations and volunteers to the relief charities working in the affected areas. But, frankly, it seems that his visit was something the president is being forced to do, like after-school detention hall homework. While Mr. Obama did show the flag, his efforts seemed pretty “low energy” and unlikely to inspire much reaction.
Hillary Clinton’s unresponsiveness has been even worse than President Obama’s nonchalance. It has bordered on a poorly disguised contempt for the state. She’s very busy fundraising, gathering in millions in the coastal elite enclaves like Beverly Hills where she attended a number of high-end fund-raisers including one at the house of Disney’s president. The governor of Louisiana said she called him with well wishes and her “logistical” reasons for not coming. That is so little personal support as to be insulting.
Looking back on these events, my thoughts return to an image from the movies. If you have never watched Rocky (you should), take a look at this clip about the underdog fighting the over-confident champ. This is the scene where Rocky goes to the meat refrigerator to pound the sides of frozen beef for a local TV news spot. It’s a classic movie scene. The champ, Apollo Creed, is more focused on his barber being in Philly than on his opponent. Big mistake, as his trainer tries to tell him. Someone should tell Mrs. Clinton that she’s in for a real fight.
Well, perhaps I am not crazy. Even a poorly covered story can make waves. And the LA Times tracking poll of 3,000 voters shows Trump now basically even with Mrs. Clinton. Of course there is the usual polling margin for error, not “likely” voters, etc. We all know that, but this poll had Trump down 4.7% on August 14th. This result may be a bit of an outlier, but the trend clearly was not. The nation sees what is happening.
With all that said, if Donald Trump wins this election, I think historians will point to a critical visit to flood-ravaged Louisiana as its turning point.