From the WSJournal today, we learn that President Bush's visit to New Orleans yesterday was designed in part to bolster Mayor Ray Nagin's chances in his runoff for re-election against Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. COME AGAIN?!?!?!?!?!?!? Every time I start to forgive this White House for all its errors and idiocies, it does something new that is so unfathomably wrongheaded that it makes me wonder if the combined brain power of the entire West Wing might be less than the intelligence of, say, James Madison alone -- on one of Madison's BAD days, when he has had insomnia and has a headache.
Let's review the bidding on this one (as they say in the game of bridge): Mayor Nagin is in general a moderate who supported GOP gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal over Demo candidate (and eventual victor) Kathleen Blanco last go round. Nagin first got into office with large white support and large conservative support. BUT, his good intentions even before Katrina were falling prey to his overall incompetence. The police force, which had actually been improved under liberal former mayor Marc Morial, had fallen back into utter incompetence and corruption under Nagin. The overall organizational efficiency and effectiveness of city services also declined under Nagin. And then came Katrina, and the 120 buses left to flood rather than used for evacuations, and the failure to implement existing city plans for hurricane disasters, and all the horrors we saw on TV (a combined fault of Nagin, Blanco, Michael Brown, Michael Chertoff and, yes, George Bush) -- and the mayor in cowardly flight to Dallas, and the mayor making lunatic statements on TV, and his call for a "chocolate city" and all sorts of other race-baiting, and.... you get the picture. Nagin is a disaster not just waiting to happen, but an ongoing disaster. Yet Bush wants to help Nagin win re-election! This is just flat-out obscene. And WHY does Bush want Nagin? Because, reports the WSJ, Bush doesn't like the Landrieu family. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Mitch's brother, once said she wanted to punch poor W. in the nose, and W. didn't like that. Oh, the poor tender feelings of our president!
But Mitch isn't Mary. Mitch is basically a political moderate. He's very smart, and he's competent. He loves New Orleans. He has the ability to bridge the city's racial divide. He is seen in most quarters as a unifying figure not just on race, but politically as well. He has few sharp edges, but he does have a sharp mind. Sure, he'll be tied in to some of the old Democratic patronage machines, which is bad.... but not all patronage is corrupt, and frankly I don't care who gets the patronage if the work gets done more efficiently and competently than Nagin's regime did. Meanwhile, not only is Nagin incompotent, but he has turned into a race-baiting demagogue. How, pray tell, does it help the beleaguered citizens of New Orleans if Nagin gets re-elected?
If this president really is trying hard, as the WSJ reports, to "bolster Mr. Nagin's political prospects with the city's white conservative establishment," then he, Mr. Bush, our president, is either a fool or a cynical manipulator or so petty and so into political grudges (against MARY Landrieu, NOT Mitch, so why punish Mitch and the people of New Orleans?) that he doesn't care if the people of New Orleans rot in Hades. Frankly, as I wondered to myself as I wrote this article, there is plenty of reason to think that the White House doesn't care how many New Orleanians suffer as long as it (the White House) can change the demographics of the area to better serve what it (mistakenly) considers to be GOP interests.
Message to President Bush: You've done enough damage to my home city already. Please just get the bleep out of the way.
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