NEW ORLEANS - Residents began trickling back Monday as part of a plan by the mayor to reopen New Orleans one ZIP code at a time, despite repeated warnings from the top federal official on the scene — and President Bush himself — that the city is not ready.
Mayor Ray Nagin defended his decision to let people back in, and suggested that the federal official in charge in New Orleans, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, had made himself “the new crowned federal mayor of New Orleans.”
AP - Sept 13th, 2005
Now, I'm not saying that Mayor Nagin is completely correct in his decision to allow some people to move back into New Orleans. I'm also not saying that the Feds are wrong to disagree. In fact, I think Mayor Nagin is a little crazy and not the best leader under the immense pressure he's been under over the past few weeks. My main problem with this whole situation is that all of this is happening in public...
There's clearly a lot of blame to be passed around in this situation from top to bottom. And everyone is trying their darndest to cover their asses as best possible. I fully expect the Bush Admin to disagree with just about any major decision made along the Gulf Coast. If nothing else, it covers their asses so they can say "I told you so" if things don't work out. I fully expect local authorities to push for faster recovery than might be recommended so they can display their leadership in tough times. If nothing else, it covers their asses so they can say "I tried" even if the decisions aren't the perfect ones.
These two ways of thinking tend to conflict with each other, but I think they can be worked out for the best results. The problem here is that each side wants to be seen as right at the cost of the other side being wrong. And this is not just a matter of being right while the other side is wrong. This is a matter of doing it all in public.
And that's what pisses me off the most about this. This is probably my bias coming in here, but I think this makes the Bush Admin come off as the petty ones in this argument. They're the ones with the experience (supposedly) so they should be doing their best to ensure that agreements can be made for the benefit of all. To be honest, I think Mayor Nagin is in over his head. He really doesn't have much experience and it shows. That being said, I give him a little more benefit of the doubt since he's clearly trying his hardest for the benefit of the people of New Orleans. While I'm sure he's trying to save his rep (what little there is of it given his lack of experience), he doesn't come off as petty; he simply comes off as trying to make decisions under pressure.
My thoughts on all this?
- It's probably naive to think that you can let people into portions of NOLA and still be able to block off other portions of the city (ostensibly to prevent looting, etc).
- Mayor Nagin is in over his head, but he wants to try to get his city back to some semblance of normalcy sooner rather than later.
- Bush & Co are being petty by making it public that they disagree with Nagin's decision. They could have figured out a way to make this all work out and perhaps delay NOLA's re-population be a week or two.
- Bush & Co would have found a way to make it work if local leadership was GOP and not Dem.
Nice to see politics taking a back seat to good leadership ;)
UPDATE: 9/19/05 2:45pm
So the story to which I linked above has been updated indicating that the re-population of NOLA has been halted due to tropical storm Rita (are we already to the R's?!). All of the comments above still stand, but let's see what further political gamesmanship occurs before people actually get to go back to NOLA.
Oh, and one other thing a friend and I agree upon: Nagin is a little crazy and should simply refrain from speaking when he's too emotional. Like I said, he doesn't have much experience and probably gets too caught up in things. I do believe he's still making the decisions he thinks are best, but Bush & Co are and will continue to use his strange comments against him. Thank god we get to see such leadership in our times :|