Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nagin, Blanco and mass hysteria

John Podhoretz says that the initial overwhelming sense of panic and hysteria that quickly built up as we watched New Orleans go underwater was fed and encouraged by Mayor Ray Nagin, Governor Kathleen Blanco and Senators Landreiu and Vitter. Podhoretz maintains that they knew they had blown it and immediately began to try to deflect blame to FEMA, the federal government and George Bush.
They consciously and deliberately assumed an attitude of powerlessness and hopelessness in the face of New Orleans' woes that directly contributed to the lawlessness, chaos and disorder.

What did they do? They gave angry interviews. They screamed and yelled about the federal government being bad. They cried. They delayed. They said they didn't care very much about looting, and then said they cared a lot about looting, and then didn't do anything about the looting. And they didn't coordinate with each other at all.

Now we're hearing that part of the problem is Nagin and Blanco don't get along, that Blanco never forgave Nagin for supporting her Republican challenger in her gubernatorial bid in 2003.
Podhoretz goes on to contrast the actions of the Louisiana pols to those of Mayor Giuliani and Governor Petaki in New York. Giuliani and Petaki were not only bitter political foes but also harbored a strong personal dislike for one another. But 9/11 caused them to band together to face the crisis with nary a cross word nor finger pointed at each other, let alone the federal government. Not so in Louisiana.
Rather than project an attitude of calm determination, of steely purpose, as Haley Barbour did in ravaged Mississippi, Nagin and Blanco contributed to the panic. They fed the despair. They encouraged the anger. And they indulged their petty personal grievances rather than rising above them for the common good.

They did themselves, their constituents and their country a monstrous disservice.
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