Hentzel: Disaster response demonstrates need for Obama to rethink priorities

Caytlin Hentzel

President Obama ran his campaign on the power of hope. I wonder how powerful his mesage now seems to the victims of disaster in Joplin, Mo. Joplin is a town that is on our hearts, as we are bombarded with images, and stories regarding abandoned pets, missing friends and family members. In times of crisis in our nation’s history, we all look for and need a true leader.

We need someone who will be strong for others when they can no longer be strong for themselves. President Obama recently visited Joplin in an attempt to offer comfort and condolences to victims and relief workers in the area. This was after he went to England to visit with Queen Elizabeth II, attended banquets, made a toast and played ping-pong with Prime Minister David Cameron.

He did address the country, of course, before he boarded Air Force One. The Wall Street Journal quoted him saying “Like all Americans, we have been monitoring what’s been taking place very closely, and have been heartbroken by what we’ve seen.” His words may have left an impact over the television, but his absence at a crucial time created a void.

President Obama’s predecessor, President Bush, was a man known for his ability to be a true leader in a time of crisis. We all remember 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina; those events will forever be engraved in our minds. We also remember the man who arrived in a timely manner to be a rock in the storm for many of us. Actions speak louder than words, and I do realize that sometimes words are all that can be offered, but we do not need to see our president hustled around a foreign country while we all pull together to offer relief to our fellow citizens.

The country needs a leader: someone we can look to for guidance and hope. Obama should have been in the Joplin area sooner. He could have gone there and come back to the White House in a day. He could have delayed or postponed his gallivanting in Europe. His duty to his fellow citizens should take precedence over his duties as a public figurehead. He needs to fulfill his promise on which the foundation for his last campaign was — the promise of hope. If he doesn’t, he’ll also see change.