Chattanooga will get air time on national news networks Tuesday when President Barak Obama visits the Amazon plant here.
National publicity. That’s a good thing for the city, right?
Wrong, if you ask many of our readers.
Here is a sampling of comments reacting to the president’s visit on the newspaper’s Facebook page:
“Please leave my state ASAP.”
“Why did you need to come to Chattanooga, and how soon can you leave?”
“I would not cross the street to see this POTUS.”
Within minutes of the Time Free Press breaking the news that Obama will visit the city, people were talking about protests.
None of this is a surprise. The Democratic president will be stepping off a plane and onto hostile, red-state soil Tuesday. Just look at the numbers:
In 2008, only 42 percent of Tennesseans voted for Obama compared to the 57 percent who voted for Republican candidate John McCain. And last year, Obama won just 39 percent of the vote compared to GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s 59 percent.
Obama will be here pitching his vision of how to add more middle-class jobs, one in a series of such speeches. He’ll tour the 1 million-square-foot Amazon distribution center.
The center, opened two years ago in the Enterprise Industrial Park, employs 1,800 full-time workers. Since 2011, Amazon added more than 5,000 full-time and seasonal jobs to five facilities in Tennessee. That’s the most jobs added here by a private company in the past decade. Amazon’s success is expected to give Obama a platform to talk about an improving economy.
In Tennessee, however, many don’t credit Obama with helping the economy, or much else.
“Someone who voted for this guy: please tell me why? What has he done to help anyone?” one person wrote.
“FIX the economy… you’ve had FIVE years!!!!” demanded another.
Others are ashamed that Obama’s visit is already being panned and protested. Take a look at these comments:
“This makes me embarrassed to be from Chattanooga.”
“A bunch of rednecks will make TN look like Beverly Hillbillies. We will look like idiots. Way to go, protesters!”
“Have respect for the office of the presidency, and take pride in knowing he chose to visit our city. … Grow up, Chattanoogans.”
Then there’s this guy, who suggested Obama be forced to answer an all-important question when he’s here: “Will none of you face the real issue here: What is President Obama doing about making a ‘Friends’ reunion special happen???”
He was about the only commenter or reader to find humor in the visit.
One man, who believes Obama is a Kenyan national, actually told me the paper was “overblowing” the president’s visit. Then he suggested we’d be better off not covering his visit at all. Nobody in Tennessee cares about Obama, he said.
Sorry, but we certainly will cover it, the same way we did when President George W. Bush visited the Scenic City in 2007 and visited Erlanger hospital, the Chattanooga Convention Center and Porker’s Bar-B-Que. Like it or not, it is a big deal when POTUS (shorthand for President of the United States) comes to town. It really doesn’t matter what side of the political fence he’s on, the visit of the most powerful man on the planet to our town is a big deal.
Love him or hate him, he’s the president, y’all.
Alison Gerber is editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For live coverage of the president’s visit, visit timesfreepress.com on Tuesday.