Monday, August 31, 2009

The Most Misunderstood Mayor in America

What do this Christian Science Monitor article:
Some 64 percent of New Orleanians say they want a mayor with "political connections." This might sound like a step backward – toward backroom politics. But to political consultant Greg Rigamer, who advises nearly all New Orleans candidates, it suggests a post-Katrina desire to find someone who can navigate the federal bureaucracy, the prickly relationship with Baton Rouge (the city's main patron), and New Orleans' own political spiderwebs.

and these American Zombie posts have in common?

It might be better for for me to begin with a related question, if Nagin's such a buffoon, moron, walking id, or whatever it is you choose to call him, how did he did he triumph so easily in two very important, fiercely contested campaigns in less than three years? Maybe not so fiercely contested*, when Nagin declared* the second campaign finished after a victory over his city council opponents, nobody objected.

IMO, the common denominator is a few misconceptions about the mayor that even his harshest critics have failed to correct. In some cases, his critics helped spread those misconceptions. Frankly, I have no idea whether Nagin was too incompetent, unintelligent or inexperienced to be mayor of a city that faced New Orleans' post-Katrina problems. I just don't know how you can judge the competence of a mayor who obviously doesn't give a f***. That was obvious to me by the end of 2005, but I guess I really need to finish up on this post. Still, I suspect the attitude that the city needs an experienced politician in the mayor's office stems, at least partially, from the idea that the mayor was overwhelmed by Katrina rather than under-concerned about anything other than himself and his cronies.

I'll have to return to the subject later this week, because it's getting late and I want to be careful how I word some criticisms of the local press and suggestions for the local blogosphere. Still, I couldn't help but think of that other Jason Berry when I read today's paper.

*In fairness to Landrieu, he was severely constrained by the fact that the supposedly anti-Nagin media insisted on complimenting both candidates on running clean, high-minded campaigns without innuendo or mud-slinging even after the Nagin campaign began an ad blitz that was based on innuendo. After the veto override (linked above) failed, Nagin declared the issue dead until the next mayoral election. Nobody, in politics or in the press, seemed to consider the implications. I think the next mayor will be saddled with an unprecedented number of expensive contracts for city services when he takes office.

Obviously, there's at least one incomplete sentence in the comment that I made at People Get Ready (also linked above), but it's a topic that I returned to frequently here and in comments on other blogs. In all honesty, I say this more to establish credibility than to brag, I called it earlier and more accurately than just about anybody: Nagin's second term would amount to one continuous campaign for control of reconstruction spending that he would win easily if he was seen as a stupid buffoon rather than a ruthless opportunist.

Interesting post. You might want to check your choice of personal pronouns near the end...

The individual who most fits the bill of having the 'political connections' necessary to help the City (meaning federal connections), is Karen Carter Peterson. Definitely, a She.
we should sit down and talk. you free soon?
When I was in grammar school, the universal "he" was still employed. If memory serves, a couple of my high school teachers insisted that the universal "he" was preferable to "he or she" and a couple accepted either. I had never heard of the singular "they" being acceptable until recently. As a widow's son (not a mason), I'm pretty attuned to most feminist issues, but I do wish we'd go back to "he" instead of "he or she" in cases of indeterminate gender.

Anyway, I'd prefer an experienced candidate for mayor, but one of the points that I meant to make, and plan to return to, was that the greater than usual insistence on experience that we're is one consequence of having misjudged Nagin. I honestly don't understand where this idea that he was well-intentioned and trying hard, but just an overwhelmed political neophyte (or even an incompetent idiot) came from. Hell, he went to Jamaica before discussing FEMA trailer placement with anybody. That was after he already taken an immediate post-Katrina trip to Dallas. Beyond that, I looked and couldn't see what he was doing. By January 2006, I looked and saw that not only had he ignored what I thought should have been three of his top priorities, I couldn't see what he was doing that might have been more of a priority. That's not inexperience, that's not giving a f***. I'd rather an experienced mayor with the connections to get things done, but I'll only overlook so much in order to avoid an inexperienced candidate I don't if Carter Peterson has too much to overlook.

Is either Sunday or Monday good for you Dambala?
Thanks for the good posts as always.

I am hoping that when things are easier for Damabla, we will still get to read the post he was working on about contracts at the schools.

I do hope the ball won't get dropped on some of the other things that grew out of the HSOA inquiry.

About your post, it is hard to make a dirty game clean.

I used to think that if I got involved in politics as a volunteer or as a staffer, and if I was the kind of citizen who went to meetings and so on, that I could make a difference.

Instead, I ended up feeling like a bitter pawn. I hated realizing that my fresh and hopeful face had been used to front for the same good old boy B.S.

Now, I'm with ol' Abe Lincoln: I 'd rather have a free press than a government. I think that politics will always be dirty, and that people will always need to devote a certain amount of their precious time to keeping the scuz-bucketry within some livable limits.

Blessing to those of you who really ante up.
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