LOUISIANA REMINDERS

1. It’s Monday, August 22, 2016. The election is 78 days away.

2. I’m going to miss the Rio Olympics. And I’m not.

It was fun to watch these sports that you don’t see all the time. I saw more water polo and table tennis in the last two weeks than I saw in the 62.3 years prior.

But then, there’s a reason you only watch these sports every four years. They’re not so compelling as to make you wonder where the nearest water polo match will be taking place.

Then again, if the Olympics whetted (or wetted) your appetite for water polo, the NCAA men’s season is about to get underway. The women – who, from their gold medal in Rio, appear to be better at the sport – play in the spring.

3. President Obama goes to Louisiana tomorrow to see the aftermath of the recent flooding first hand.

I don’t think he’s going there in order to placate his critics who say he cravenly ignored the flooding while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. While he might have not been there in person, his administration is working hard to get aid to people, with FEMA expanding its relief effort again today. 

I think Obama’s going to Baton Rouge tomorrow because this is the right time to do it. Because his visit might actually comfort, rather than inconvenience people, which is the goal.

4. Strangely though, last week might have been the right time for Trump’s visit, even though it might seem to some as though he was there to make political hay.

Because here’s the thing: Trump’s obsession with being at the top of the news every single day has obscured important stories that are out there languishing for attention.

The flooding in Louisiana is just the biggest of several. The wildfires in California, the unrest in Milwaukee, the economic crisis in Venezuela, the turmoil in the Philippines and the ongoing battle against the Zika virus are also stories lost in the fog of Trumpmania – and, to be fair, the Olympics.

But the Olympics are now over, so that distraction is gone. And maybe as part of his reset, under new campaign management, Trump might be trying to get people to focus on real issues instead of what stupid thing he did. Going to Louisiana to spotlight the crisis there might be a way to do that.

Then again, this morning, Trump acted like a neighborhood biddy in gossiping about two morning news show hosts. So maybe that reset isn’t going so well.

5. By the way, in case you need a reminder about what’s at stake in Louisiana, here’s a terrific piece from Saturday’s “All Things Considered” on NPR.  

It features a woman who is dealing with the devastation of flooding in her life for a second time. She was a victim of Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago.

It is heartbreaking to hear. But it’s important to hear. Because when we see the news, sometimes we forget that it involves real people and real problems.

The flooding in Baton Rouge is a reminder. Not a welcome one, but a reminder nonetheless.

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