What’s a state got to do to get a little presidential love?

A colleague, who has kin in Vermont, pointed out this morning that President Barack Obama isn’t touring Vermont when he makes the traditional presidential “I care” visit that accompanies national disasters. Obama will tour Patterson, New Jersey on Sunday, which has been particularly hard hit in the wake of Irene.

But so has Vermont. About 13 towns remained cut off after the roads were washed away, and the National Guard was bringing in supplies of food and water, in some cases by helicopter.

Truth be told, presidential visits have no real value other than maybe giving a morale boost to people and certainly providing some favorable political footage on the nightly news. The administration has already sent various underlings in emergency management agencies to all of the states affected.

But Obama has never visited Vermont as president (his wife did last spring). And George Bush missed one state in all of his years in office. Guess which one?

The state didn’t exactly put the welcome mat out for the guy.

Brattleboro, the poster community for this latest disaster, is famously weird and could make for uncomfortable questions for a visiting president. In two towns on town meeting day years ago, residents approved resolutions calling for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for violating the Constitution. One of the towns? Brattleboro.

The last time a sitting president visited Vermont was 1995 when President Bill Clinton had no choice. He wanted to speak to the National Governor’s Association and it was holding its gathering in Vermont? Why? Howard Dean chaired the NGA. He was also the governor of Vermont.

  • KTFoley

    CVPS’s outage map indicates 174 separate outages and 4528 people affected.


    Hey, Brattleboro has only 2 of those outages, affecting 29 people!

    Should the President arrive in a convoy of SUVs? Here’s a map of the road conditions in Vermont right now.


    Hey, Brattleboro has only a lane closure!

    Should the President do a helicopter fly-over?

    Right now the National Guard has only two at its disposal, so whatever can make an air trip should be packing bottled water and diapers.


    Perhaps the Brattleboro citizen has the means & energy to expect a presidential visit because he or she is not in crisis. Looks like plenty of fellow Vermonters need real, hands-on assistance. The President would get in the way. The citizen could get in there and help.

  • Bob Collins

    Brattleboro’s downtown was pretty much wiped out by the floods and it’s the 4th largest city.They’re having a crisis.

    My suspicion is that part of the problem is there’s no place for Air Force One to land. Albany is pretty far away and Westover is half a state away.

    Plus, it’s Vermont.

    That said, Vermont does not have a diverse economy and much of it has been derailed.

    Still, there’ll be other opportunities for a presidential visit, although he missed the Strolling of the Heifers already. Pity.

  • KTFoley

    There is no intend here to minimize the damage that’s occurred in Vermont — the outage map, the status update and the road closure diagram all tell us that life has not gotten anywhere near back to normal.

    Clearly, I got it wrong about Brattleboro. But I don’t think I got it wrong about the complaint.

    If it’s truly bad then a presidential convoy is not any kind of help. Vermont has bigger, more pressing needs right now. Yeah, the trend can be upsetting but right now a third National Guard helicopter should be deployed to the Green Mountains, not Air Force One.

  • Lucy

    Not THE Strolling of the Heifers!


    huh. I thought that the cows actually did ‘The Stroll’