Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Brinkley on Katrina

Historian Douglas Brinkley has quite the interesting article in the T-P. It also appears that he is releasing a pretty quick history of Hurricane Katrina this week, which I might run out and buy if it didn't have 700+ pages. I don't read anything over 10 pages these days, just too challenging on my Post-K brain.

Some of Brinkley's most interesting points come from Nagin's foe in the runoff, Mitch Landrieu:

Landrieu, Nagin's opponent in the runoff, is quoted by Brinkley describing
his efforts to find Nagin the day after the storm to ask him "why school
buses and those belonging to the Regional Transit Authority hadn't been
activated to transport evacuees." Landrieu first encountered Sally Forman,
according to the article, who said she was looking for Chief Administrative
Officer Brenda Hatfield, who would know where the bus keys were.

"It would have seemed farcical if the circumstances hadn't been so
dire," Brinkley writes.

The article says Landrieu eventually found Nagin on the
27th floor of the Hyatt hotel, which had become the emergency operations
center and sleeping quarters for city administrators and where Brinkley says
-- in one of the loaded phrases that pepper the article -- Nagin was
"hunkered down" and "cloistered."

Landrieu tells Brinkley that Nagin was "sitting in a room, trying to
pick up information from the TV and radio." After Landrieu asked Nagin if he
needed anything, the article says, "Nagin stared straight ahead and answered,
'We're looking for a command-and-control structure.' "

Brinkley then summarizes: "To some observers, the naive politician was
turning into a pathetic figure, the city's skipper who didn't know what a boom

Brinkley also has this to say about our Governor:

As for Blanco, Brinkley credits her with working hard and sleeping little, but
suggests she was beyond her depth. He notes that in a phone call with the
president the night of the storm, Blanco asked for "everything you've got," but
didn't specify what she needed. And he quotes Brown, who has since resigned from
FEMA, as saying Blanco "reminded me of an aunt I have whom I love to pieces. But
I would never trust this aunt to run a state or be a mayor. . . . I just see
Blanco as this really nice woman who is just way beyond her level of ability."

I doubt this will have any affect on New Orleans, the biggest problem is that it is going to affect the perception outside of New Orleans, which is by far our biggest and most important challenge right now. We can't do this ourselves, it's going to take years, and we need the rest of the country to be behind us, bumbling elected officials or not.

Read the full article here

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