September 11, 2005

What is Ray Nagin's Game?

Bob Johnson has some questions about Mayor Ray Nagin and his appearance on the Meet the Press where he was caught carrying Bush and Rove's water. Turns out that Nagin didn't think the President had much to answer for in regards to helping the people of New Orleans, and didn't think that Governor Blanco had been up to the job.

Remember this?

Have we been punked?

Via Making Light.

Here's my comment I left on Bob's post (slightly edited):

I wondered when it was going to be time to investigate it further.

Bush et al's utterly stinking depravity and criminality doesn't exonerate Nagin, a lifelong Republican technocrat who defected to the Democrats days before filing for the Mayoral race in this solidly Democrat town (it's perhaps no surprise that despite Nagin's outburst Bush doesn't bear him any grudges – Nagin contributed to his campaign funds). His rebirth as Rebel With a Cause is too little, too late.

How much of the "looting" in New Orleans was due to the overreaction of Nagin? There sure was a lot of discussion about the lawlessness of the city and the orders for shoot to kill.

Here's what Lieut. General Russel Honoré, the military boss helping New Orleans had to say about the violent and riot-plagued city.

Honoré also says help should have come sooner. First responders hesitated, he says, because they were "afraid of big crowds of poor people." It was a case of "people believing the movie." But the city was not out of control, he concluded after delivering food and seeing the streets for himself. The subsequent forays by government forces may have reassured outsiders desperate that help get into the deluged city, but, says Honoré, they "just pissed off people inside the city. Imagine being rescued and having a fellow American point a gun at you. These are Americans. This is not Iraq."

There is definitely more to uncover on this particular issue.

Nagin has struck several false notes, including trying to force Blanco in turning over control of the National Guard to Bush.

According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."

A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over—if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter, Bush turned to Governor Blanco and said, "Well, what do you think of that, Governor?" Blanco told Bush, "I'd rather talk to you about that privately." To which Nagin responded, "Well, why don't you do that now?"

The meeting broke up. Bush and Blanco disappeared to talk. More than a week later, there was still no agreement. Blanco didn't want to give up her authority, and Bush didn't press.

If Bush had taken over, would the military have gone in like it was an invading army? Certainly enough people deeply worried about that when the discussion was happening.

Here's a contemporaneous account of the struggle over the LA National Guard from Next question: was it necessary for Bush to have control of the LA National Guard to come in and help? In a word: No.

So what is Nagin's game?

Posted by Mary at September 11, 2005 06:13 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |

I've been sounding the alarm since I saw China Mieville's post, did some hasty digging on Nagin and hit an article on him run in 2002 in the Tulane student newspaper.

It's gone now - Tulane's flooded, and Minitrue has hit, and it isn't in googlecache any more, but as I warned people to do when I posted about it, I had saved it down to my hard drive.

The Second Battle of New Orleans - 2002

The good stuff is at the end.

Here is Nagin's aim - cleaning up the city of city of crime and making it attractive to yuppies and big business once again. Which is exactly what everyone from Jack Kemp, Bush I's Secretary of Urban Development, to the Republican congressman from Baton Rouge, is saying Yay, we can do it now!

Then, contrast it with yesterday's This American Life, with Lori Slonsky the white EMT who was shot at by the Gretna police, saying "Blessed be the looters!" who got food and water and clothes other necessities for the old people and the sick people that she and Larry Bradshaw were taking care of.

Posted by: bellatrys at September 12, 2005 03:49 AM