"They don't have a clue what's going on down there," Mayor Ray Nagin told WWL-AM Thursday night. "They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed."
Come friday morning, Bush had a response.
"A lot of people are working hard to help those who've been affected. The results are not acceptable," he said. "I'm heading down there right now."
Well it's about time. To put things in perspective, the CEO of the biotech company my wife works for spent Tuesday flying supplies to New Orleans (via Baton Rouge) and that was just under his own ambition and desire to help. He wasn't paid to help. He's never lived there, and certainly never held office or governed there. He just knows that not everyone has a pilot's license and felt compelled to put his to use. I believe he was held in a holding pattern for over 3 hours after flying from Seattle. But he got the supplies on the ground three days before our President can find the time to stop and take a look.
In the days immediately following 9/11, a lot of people took solace in the speech President Bush made at Ground Zero. He showed all the traits of a good leader that particular day and even made some blue-bloods like myself wonder whether or not Gore could have met the challenge. But just as we sit and listen to people banter about racial stereotypes regarding the lawlessness in New Orleans,we could easily cast these verbal hand grenades at Bush.
Was he on the ground right away in New York City because the affected where corporations and white-collar business people--those suffering the most in New Orleans are almost entirely black and represent much of the city's 28% who live in porverty. Was it just because the city had a conservative Mayor in Giulliani--Nagin is a Democrat in a Democratic state. Was it because Bush knew he could don his invisible cowboy hat and talk tough about exacting revenge on a foreign enemy--in New Orleans the only person to blame is our own hubris. Was it because New York has more electoral votes?
Or is it just because the man is in his second term and simply can't be bothered anymore?
I'd like to think not on each of these charges. But, until Bush provides the answer we hope to see and stands side-by-side with the people on the streets, Mayor Nagin should go on using all the French he'd like. And may the first talking head Republican to correct him and call it "Freedom Language" be forced to spend just one night in the Convention Center.