August 28th, 2009
10:45 AM ET

Does Obama care about New Orleans?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/08/28/shearer.new.orleans/art.harry.shearer.jpg caption="Harry Shearer says the White House isn't getting actively involved in protecting New Orleans from flooding."]
Harry Shearer
Special to CNN

I spent much of this month in my adopted hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Uncharacteristically for August, the streets and restaurants and galleries and music clubs were largely full and throbbing with energy.

There are hubs of entrepreneurs all over town trying to invent the future. And thankfully, Mayor Ray Nagin's term is only months away from its end.

Between my weeks in the Crescent City, I joined some local folks in traipsing up to the Aspen Institute to share the news of New Orleans with interested outsiders. One talked about the progress in rebuilding homes. Another discussed the reform of the public-school system, the decoupling of the schools from a centralized board, resulting in the city becoming the leader in charter-school enrollment.

A third talked about the move to neighborhood medical clinics, an effort to replace the hospital beds missing in the flooding's wake.

A fourth reported the good economic statistics, marred only by the continuing shortage in affordable rental housing (80,000 units were whacked by the flood). And a fifth discussed the citizen activism that is helping, along with a determined U.S. attorney (who's just sent Rep. William Jefferson and his brother Mose to jail), to clean up local politics.

After all, it was New Jersey pols, not New Orleans ones, who got snagged in a scheme involving black-market kidneys. Wish we'd thought of that.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Hurricane Katrina
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. nea

    Thats funny because the other day i was reading a comment aabout how the President and his Administration was helping New orleans and Gov. Bobby Jindal was the one who said how the stimulus money helped the state so something just dont sounds right to me. Everything is not going to never be perfect their but at least it sounds like they are on the road to recovery.

    August 29, 2009 at 1:45 am |
  2. doctorj2u

    A few fact corrections. The levees that broke were FEDERAL, not state levees. The FEDERAL government repairs them. And, because I know it is coming, 50% of New Orleans is at or above sea level. Great job, Harry! Did you see the headline of the paper this morning?
    Obama is missing a chance to correct the problems of the past administration. By not coming to the city he is letting us know he is just more of the same – a whole lot of nothing (except promises).

    August 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  3. Linda B., Ga.

    Does Former President Bush and his administration care about New Orleans anylonger?

    I'm glad everybody that cares about New Orleans, truly do care. I would like to see or hear sometimes things that going on in the rest of the Gulf Coast area that was effected, if possible......

    August 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  4. dafatman

    without the corps there would be no new orleans??? without the corps there would be no mrgo. without the mrgo there would be no need for thirty five foot levees as the now a distant memory cypress swamps and brackish marshes would act as a sponge and suck up any storm surge before it hit new orleans. a superhighway to the gulf from the city of new orleans. what a brilliant idea.

    August 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  5. gj hernandez

    Obama has so much to clean up! I'm sure the nation comes first! New Orleans, was a mess before Katrina. Of course Katrina did not help matters. We need to help this man make this Nation what it was!

    August 28, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  6. lampe

    Jindal; Has done more for New Orleans, than anyone else. To say he is more interested in becoming POTUS, is just Dumb. When bad weather was going to hit there again, he made sure there was enough transportation to get everybody out, and he was ready to make them all leave. Sounds to me like he is a man with a plan, unlike some others who had no plan at all, except to save their own butts.

    August 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  7. ill susan

    The railing against the Army Corps of Engineers – makes me think of the railing against government involvement in the health care issue. Yes, the Corps was deficient in its eval and follow-through. But without the Corps, would there BE a New Orleans at all? The Corps inherited the berms of the initial settlers to the area and sought to reinforce them.

    That is the same thing that is happening with American Medical/Health Care System – it is cobbled together from the vestiges of the pre-scientific medical delivery system of the 19th Century and as the scientific basis of medicine came to dominate medical/health care. (And that 19th Century model was based upon the medieval guild system.) When given the opportunity to update that in concerted manner post WWII, unlike the European and Asian countries who took the brunt of the horrors of war, the US decided to continue with the patchwork system because it was afraid of Communism. (I remind people that Bismarck MANDATED health insurance in order to PREVENT socialism and communism in Germany.)

    So, here, we rail against the government for not having ENOUGH of a public option.

    Make up your mind! What do you expect of government?

    August 28, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Bobby Jindal, the governor of New Orleans, seems to care more about being president than anything else. And Sen. Landeau is useless and should have been ousted after Katrina.

    August 28, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  9. Michael C. McHugh

    He probably does, but I'd say he's overwhelmed with problems in domestic and foreign policy.

    August 28, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Eva Collins

    Yes he does..But with America in its own Disaster it seems hard to cover everthing..It should be Mr. Bush helping it was his DISASTER..

    August 28, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  11. Ashlee Guy

    It seem to me that Obama do care about New Orleans its just things take time. With the economy the way it is the funds are short, but whens things get better then maybe the progress will seem to increase. It seems that President Obama is always getting comments on what ever invole him. Only if the president had more to support him then maybe things will seem as if it were moving faster. In my opinon I think President Obama is doing a great job with all the economic problems going on, and whether people think his presidency is in trouble.

    August 28, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  12. joey Mogeaux

    My guess would be he Does Not Care About New Orleans because the gov. of the state is republican so there would be nothing to gain at all politically by supporting and commenting on the rebuild of that area....

    August 28, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  13. Alfonzo Walker

    Mr.Cooper I wish you would come to Biloxi,Ms. Mostly all the news media talks about New Orleans and If there state had repaired the levies years ago they would have have that much damage, In Mississippi is where Hurricane Katrina hit, but people always forget about us.

    August 28, 2009 at 11:10 am |