President Bush is touring the Gulf Coast and media coverage of his visit and the 18-month anniversary of Katrina has been generally done a good job at revealing the ongoing problems in the region.

For example, a piece by Reuters yesterday contrasts Bush's sense of "hope" with the realities on the ground:

President George W. Bush faced new pressure to jump-start the recovery from Hurricane Katrina on Thursday as he toured the Gulf Coast region hit by the worst U.S. natural disaster.

Eighteen months after the 2005 hurricane, analysts say tens of thousands of people remain displaced and more than half of the schools in the New Orleans area are still closed, a grim reminder of the toll on the region.

The piece also highlights a study released by the Institute's Gulf Watch project this week, A New Agenda for the Gulf, which shows that many of the problems can be traced back to failures in federal policy.

A report by the Institute of Southern Studies said the Gulf Coast is still in crisis, with more than half the schools in New Orleans still closed, and the region's recovery has been stalled due to a lack of housing, jobs and other basic needs.

"President Bush and the new congressional leadership have all said Katrina and the Gulf Coast are still a top priority. It's time for them to live up to their promises and responsibility and help rebuild the Gulf South," said Chris Kromm, a spokesman for the group.

On his trip, President Bush handed out U.S. flags to local residents, who were encouraged to wave them at each stop. Julie Mason reported on the Houston Chronicle blog:

One thing Bush likes to do in the Gulf Coast is hand out American flags to families rebuilding their houses. Long before he shows up, Bush's advance team scouts the non-hostile property owners in a neighborhood, and later, the president drops by and gives the family a flag. The White House thinks this makes for good pictures -- and maybe it did, a month after the storm.

But a year and half later, with the region still a mess and so many people displaced, it seems a little tone-deaf to be handing out flags -- politically, it does invite comparisons to what Bush isn't doing in the region.