Earlier today, Obama landed in Flint, Michigan, his first visit to the city since its contaminated drinking water crisis began two years ago. Air Force One landed at Bishop International Airport and Gov. Rick Snyder was among the officials waiting on the tarmac to greet the president.
With him, Obama brought a message of hope to residents of Flint, Michigan: a promise for change after lead from old pipes tainted their drinking water.
Obama's first order of business in Flint was to receive a briefing on the federal response to the crisis, then to meet with city residents. He had declared a state of emergency in mid-January and ordered federal aid to supplement the state and local response. At that point, however, the crisis was in full bloom. It actually took several months for the nation to focus on the beaten-down city's plight, raising questions about how race and poverty influenced decisions that led to the tainted water supply and the beleaguered response once problems surfaced. More than 40 percent of Flint residents live in poverty and more than half are black.
To be sure, the topic of Flint's lead-contaminated drinking water has become one of the core issues on the Hillary campaign trail.
In an effort to save money, the city, while under state management, began drawing its water from the Flint River in April 2014. Despite complaints from residents about the smell and taste and health problems, city leaders insisted the water was safe. However, doctors reported last September that the blood of children contained high levels of lead.
The source of the city's water was subsequently switched back to Detroit, but the lead problem still is not fully solved, and people are drinking filtered or bottled water.
So what did Obama do? The same thing Japanese authorities did when they arrived in Fukushima to "prove" they are not lying about the latent raioactive threat: he drank the Flint water.
President Barack Obama drinks a glass of filtered Flint water during trip to Flint pic.twitter.com/NOmptb0Rnm— Ryan Garza (@ryangarzafreep) May 4, 2016
There was just one problem: Obama drank the filtered water.
The president drank filtered Flint water for the press after I asked him if it was local water. pic.twitter.com/z33ksET6ao— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) May 4, 2016
Obama also said that some kids may not be affected by the drinking water.
What happens next? Well, since we doubt that this demonstration that local "filtered" water is safe will do much to change the local population's opinion about the regular water, Obama's demonstration may have been for nothing. As for the comparison with comparable Japanese confirmations that all is well, we do recall that one of the officials did end up having cancer.
Then again, since by his own admission, Obama's drinking water had been filtered in advance, the risk of the lame duck president developing brain damage is slim to none.