In Defense of Nagin
Some of the blogospheric vitriol against C. Ray Nagin is completely unjust. Did he make mistakes before and after Katrina? Certainly. Should he have run off at the mouth as much as he did? Of course not. Did he do any worse than the rest of our political "leadership?" No, he didn't. And yet, because those people have toed the party line, they've escaped most criticism for their actions. Jefferson Parish President Broussard received a pass for causing over a billion dollars in damage by sending the pump operators away and outright lying on national TV. Blanco played politics, seeking the best way to promote herself and stab Nagin in the back. Ever since Nagin endorsed Republican Bobby Jindal over Kathleen Blanco, the knives have been out for him. The Democrats and the MSM only like "mavericks" when they are RINOs. And the coverage of Nagin has reflected this.
Just as the prevailing meme is "Bush lied" it is also now conventional wisdom that Nagin is incompetent and corrupt. A case can be made for incompetence, although I don't think that case would win out in front of an impartial judge who has all the facts. To those who accuse him of corruption, I have this to say: you're full of crap. If you're going to slander the man, at least provide some evidence. And by evidence, I mean something other than William Jefferson endorsing him. You don't have to prove it but at least reference a credible accusation. I don't believe you can. Nagin has had an exemplary anti-corruption record from the first week he took office.
We had very little warning about this storm. Nagin was out in front begging people to leave long before the voluntary or the later mandatory evacuations were called for.
The Superdome was never set up to be a shelter. But people needed somewhere to go, and given the lack of other options, that was the best choice. They were told to bring food, water, and bedding. It was plainly, repeatedly stated that those things were not going to be provided. Although Nagin is generally blamed for this, after the storm the reason food and water were not delivered was none other than Governor Kathleen Blanco. Hugh Hewitt's interview with Major Garrett on 9/7 makes that abundantly clear.
HH: Of course they are. Now Major Garrett, what about the Louisiana governor's office of Homeland Security. Have they responded to this charge by the Red Cross, which is a blockbuster charge?
MG: I have not been able to reach them yet. But, what they have said consistently is, and what they told the Red Cross, we don't want you to come in there, because we have evacuees that we want to get out. And if you come in, they're more likely to stay. So I want your listeners to follow me here. At the very moment that Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans was screaming where's the food, where's the water, it was over the overpass, and state officials were saying you can't come in.
There has been criticism about Nagin's perceived hysteria in requesting thousands of body bags. If Katrina had actually hit here, instead of giving us a glancing blow, those body bags would have been needed.
There has been criticism that Nagin did not immediately straighten out the Levee Board when he took office. The Levee Board is appointed by the Governor and they are useless. The Mayor is not empowered to change it. He likewise has no control over the Corps of Engineers, who is largely responsible for the damage in New Orleans. If the levees had held as promised, we'd have been back to normal a month after the storm.
Again, I'm not saying that Nagin is perfect and that he made no mistakes pre- and post-Katrina. I'm saying that he's an honest man, who made mistakes, and is also being unfairly blamed for things he had no control over, and accused of things that are simply not true.
There was no perfect candidate. It was either politics as usual with Cajun Kennedy Mitch Landreiu, who pledged to bring in notoriously corrupt Marc Morial to help decide how to spend federal Katrina funds, or an honest, flawed man who is relatively new to politics but kept his campaign pledge to clean up entrenched corruption.
New Orleans made the right choice.
Update: Other NOLA bloggers agree that, even if they don't especially like Nagin, his re-election is not bad news.
Dana at Northshore Politics: "I would have loved to seen a change, but, given the choices, I think Nagin was the lesser of the two evils. Before the storm hit, Nagin was a good mayor. Obviously, the New Orleans' voters are hoping to see that good mayor again soon."
Paul at Wizbang: "... I laugh at the people who bash New Orleanians for electing Nagin. It might be paradoxical but he WAS the reform candidate.
Confused yet? ;-)
In case you still don't get it: It is basically a given that the Dems lost a seat in the Senate last night."
Posted by Laura Curtis at May 22, 2006 09:56 AM
The trackback entry for this page is : http://www.inthehat.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1322
|# May 22nd, 2006 11:13 AM ddfatic|
|I agree with you Laura; although, I have to admit that over the last few months, my support for Nagin has been waning.
I, too, have a post about the election.
Keep up the good work.
|# May 22nd, 2006 12:59 PM Laura|
|Good analysis in your post, Dana, I added a link up above. |