Politicizing Katrina: A Tragedy Starring Mayor Ray Nagin
I understand New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's frustration, I would probably be a basket case if I were in his situation. However, I think that his recent profanity-laced tirade against President Bush is reprehensible and inexcusable. I don't care about the language, the man is under a lot of stress, but I do mind his ill-informed mischaracterization of events.
Earlier today, Nagin lambasted the Federal Government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and President Bush in particular. One of the juicier remarks made by Mr. Nagin was this: "They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of #^!$*#%$ - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am %#$*ed." He also complained about the fact that he was promised thousands of National Guard troops which had not arrived, saying that somebody should "get of their #!$ and do something."
First, about the President's flyover: What else was he supposed to do? It would have been neither possible, safe, nor appropriate for the President to witness the destruction in New Orleans. Even if he found somewhere to land, the city is a war zone and it isn't safe (which is why Mayor Nagin is in Baton Rouge). The only thing that could have been accomplished by the President landing in Louisiana would be a nice photo-op with the mayor in Baton Rouge, and I think the President had bigger problems to worry about. He did the right thing by immediately flying back to Washington in order make sure that the bureaucrats "got off their #$*&^@ and did something". While the disaster may be on the Gulf Coast, the people in charge of fixing it are in Washington. Now that he has taken care of the urgent matters, he IS touring those hurricane damaged areas along the Gulf Coast, including Louisiana.
Second: The President does want to send a lot of National Guard troops to Louisiana. The problem is that those forces are not under his command, they are under the command of various state Governors (that's called federalism). It falls to them, not the President to mobilize their troops.
Mayor Nagin should know these facts, as he is also part of the Government. He either lacks rudimentary knowledge of government, is blinded by his hatred toward Bush, or is trying to take advantage of this disaster for political purposes.
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