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Grand Isle, Louisiana

Mark Mardell | 01:27 UK time, Saturday, 29 May 2010

The heat is going out of the day at the marina at the end of Grand Isle and under a raised metal roof workers slump exhausted, lying on benches, heads on tables.

They've been out in the sun all day dressed up in heavy boots and protective overalls collecting tar balls off the beach. I ask one of the workers, Barbara, if she saw President Obama, although I know the answer: no-one did, except politicians, officials and journalists. "Uh huh. I saw him land," she tells me.

So is he doing enough? "I am sure he wants to stop it, just like everybody else. You can see what kind of community this is. All along this area it's nothing but people fishing. I can't say that he's not doing enough. He took responsibility because he's the chief, but it's basically BPs fault."

As we finish talking Paul, a young man with dreadlocks shouts out: "Its BP, BP's fault not Obama."

Grand Isle is a pretty place, at the very end of a finger of Louisiana that sticks into the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by green marshlands and little water ways.

It is here that Obama came to make his pitch. He only spent about four hours in Louisiana, walking along the beach, picking up tar balls, hold a meeting and making a statement.

He said that the buck stopped with him as the president, and tried to show he shared their pain. He said:

"It's an assault on our shores, on our people, on the regional economy, and on communities like this one.

"This isn't just a mess that we've got to mop up. People are watching their livelihoods wash up on the beach. Parents are worried about the implications for their children's health.

"Every resident of this community has watched this nightmare threaten the dreams that they've worked so hard to build. And they want it made right, and they want to make it right now."

Then he flew off.

At the marina a bar runs along one jetty. They're selling beer, bloody marys and tar ball shots. Jagermeister and jello, I'm told.

A group of friends clutching beer in coolers are laughing uproariously. They come fishing for speckled trout and underneath their good humour they are deeply unimpressed with the president, one man says.

"He's doing a terrible job. He's not taking control. There's no coordination on the clean up they're letting BP run the whole show."

Another drinker tell me: "He's being a real politician trying to cover his ass. He says he's calling the shot but how can he be calling the shots when he doesn't know what BP is doing?"

His wife comes up and says her six-year-old grandson wants to go to the beach. "There's the oil sheen. I can't put my grandson in that," she says.

Frustration is a word the White House uses a lot. But it is a good word - even better than blame. There is a sense here, in this lovely strip of land, that someone, something just has to step in and stop this hurt and devastation.


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