As megastorm Harvey rages on in Southeast Texas and towards Louisiana, President Donald Trump has been criticized for much of his administration’s response to the devastation.
He was dragged (including by his own cheerleaders) for not having a fully staffed administration — including vacant leadership positions at disaster response-related agencies like NOAA and Homeland Security — for bragging about “crowd sizes” when he spoke to victims in Houston, and for promoting a book by a controversial sheriff on Twitter after pardoning disgraced and racist sheriff Joe Arpaio instead of publicizing storm relief efforts as the storm hit.
Trump’s supporters quickly came to his aid on social media, trying to draw a comparison between Trump’s response to Harvey and his predecessor’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Twitter user Annie Kleynjans even tweeted at former President Obama: “Will you please get lost. Where were you when Katrina hit, oh right, playing golf. Now you want to play president. Never again.”
And she wasn’t the only one.
View image on Twitter
On this anniversary of #HurricaneKatrina making landfall let us never forget…
Barack Obama wasn’t president.
Stay in school kiddos.
Except there’s one problem with these arguments.
Katrina happened in 2005 and President Obama wasn’t elected until 2008. It was George W. Bush who oversaw the disastrous response to the deadly storm, which claimed 1,800 lives and destroyed infrastructure in New Orleans, leaving a lasting effect that the region is still recovering from.
So Twitter user Margaret HochDoerfer clearly invented this specific memory of hers when she tweeted: “How come we never saw Obama helping the Katrina victims? Oh that’s right he was golfing at that time.”
User Just Judy even accused “lefties” — likely meaning Democrats, progressives and rational thinkers — of being “on crack” for criticizing Trump’s response in light of Obama’s alleged absence.
Again, President Obama was not the president during Hurricane Katrina. Was. Not. President.
He could very well have been golfing then, but he was not the president, would not yet be president for several years, and as a senator for Illinois at that time, had only as much obligation as did any other not from the region legislator to respond.