Cameron: Nobody in pain wants a circus

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Stay home, Mr. President.

And no, before you come leaping out of your chairs, I am NOT referring solely to President Trump.

I’m talking about everyone who holds the office.

The chief executive of the United States has no business zooming off to whatever far-flung spot has experienced a tragedy — whether it was caused by nature (Puerto Rico) or the madness of a deranged human being (Las Vegas).

Look, if any president needs the political theater of showing up in a disaster zone, appearing to help stricken citizens or local governments, make it just a helicopter fly-by.

That’ll do for the photo opps.

Anything more than that — like handing out flashlights in Puerto Rico — does more harm than good.

These people are trying to save lives, restore electricity, find loved ones, protect their homes and all manner of other serious work.

And nothing, absolutely nothing, causes needless chaos like a visit from the president of the United States.

TO BE perfectly blunt, there is nothing any president can do in person after a tragedy except get in the way.

And of course, there is always the possibility of a serious blunder, as when President George W. Bush arrived in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and seemed oblivious to the fact that federal assistance was late and poorly administered.

Bush uttered his famous line, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job,” to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) boss Michael Brown, and immediately became the focus of blazing anger from folks in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Thousands of people were still fighting for their lives when Bush gave those props to “Brownie” — who was dismissed not long after the Katrina fiasco.

Trump made a less-atrocious mistake in Puerto Rico this week when he minimized the hurricane damage by referring to Katrina, in contrast, as a “real” catastrophe.

Certainly citizens of the island weren’t warmed by any comparisons as they were counting their dead and injured.

And then, for heaven’s sake, what could Trump — what could ANY president — hope to accomplish with a trip to Las Vegas?

The carnage was over. Nothing left except horror, grieving and cleanup.

It was no place for a presidential hug.

Who cared?

THE THING that makes these political trips so wrong — so counter-productive — is that anytime a president turns up, a circus breaks out.

The Secret Service has to clear buildings, shut down roads that will be used by the presidential motorcade, and quickly go over lists of potential troublemakers who might be lingering in the area.

And whatever you’re doing nearby, just driving home or trying to restore electricity to a ravaged neighborhood, must stop immediately.

President Bush made a one-hour visit to Charlotte while I was working there. By happenstance, our office windows overlooked the interstate spur through downtown and most of the city’s commercial center.

It was stunning how the Secret Service cleared immense areas, blocking parts of busy I-77 and entire sections of downtown. And that was almost two hours before Bush arrived.

When he did show up, it was zip, zip, quick photo opp ... and then the mob was gone.

Meanwhile, the main part of a booming commercial center had been forced to a halt for half a day.

No, suffering cities and regions do NOT need a presidential visit.

All that occurs is an endless and useless delay in returning to normal.

It’s supposed to make the White House occupant look “presidential.”

But the result, unfortunately, is just the opposite.

It’s a mess.

• • •

Steve Cameron is a special assignment reporter for The Press. Reach Steve at: scameron@cdapress.com.

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