The government in the state of Louisiana is in sad shape.
In the 14 days since Hurricane Katrina made landfall, we’ve heard, read and watched interviews from the state’s Governor, New Orleans’ Mayor, and the Democratic Senator. They’ve used colorful, descriptive words to express ‘their side’ of the disaster relief
effort debacle. But no matter how many different ways they try to explain it, the whole experience remains confusing. Each of these individuals have contorted the truth to pass blame onto the president, and each other.
It doesn’t take a clinical psychologist to identify the symptoms and diagnose the disease which results from colliding personalities, opposing agendas, and personal irresponsibility.
First, let’s examine a few statements by Governor Kathleen Blanco. She’s given a series of media interviews over the past week and has said some amazing things.
“Louisiana had a well thought-out exit plan in the days before Hurricane Katrina, and many more lives would have been lost without it.”
Delusional — With thousands of people stuck in the Superdome and later at the Convention Center stranded, starving, and dying, how can anyone say with a straight face that “Louisiana had a well thought-out exit plan”? No matter how many people drove out of New Orleans before Katrina hit, the thousands left in the city without help will always be the example of a poorly thought out exit plan.
“There was not a single individual taking a slow step in our state.”
Dysfunctional — There wasn’t a single individual taking ANY significant steps in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. The local authority was caught in a classic ‘deer in the headlights’ state of confusion.
“The mayor certainly has ordered that (forced evacuation) but the governor, and that would be me, would have to enforce it or implement it. We are trying to determine whether there is an absolute justification for that.”
Divisive — The train-wreck of Mayor Nagin and Gov. Blanco, each trying to usurp the authority of the other. Their ability to govern together, or merely get along with each other in the future is highly unlikely.
“The mayor was not in my meeting (with President Bush). And it was — I’ll tell you, it was a meeting that did not affect what was going on out in the field. They were talking about paper organizations, nothing else. Nothing more. And they gave me a very complicated proposition to look at. It didn’t help our effort in that instant moment. I needed a little time to understand exactly what it meant. We went forward, all of us. All the resources were there. Nothing stopped. We ended up coming to terms and agreements. And I think that the effort’s going great.”
Defiant — When confronted by a CNN reporter who asked Gov. Blanco to explain the 24 hour delay she needed before accepting the president’s offer of help, Gov. Blanco delivered a terse, anger laden response. She all but labelled Nagin a liar, and didn’t move an inch toward admitting culpability in furthering the delay of relief supplies to refugees.
Mayor Ray Nagin delivered a few gems over the past two weeks. Here’s one:
“Come on, man. You know, I’m not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly. And I don’t know whose problem it is. I don’t know whether it’s the governor’s problem. I don’t know whether it’s the President’s problem, but somebody need to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.”
When it comes to evacuation and relief organization, Nagin doesn’t know who is suppose to be in charge. Couple this with a third of the police department AWOL, the remaining two thirds without a clear command structure (with a couple of ’em busy looting) and you’ve got serious Dysfunctional-ity. So, what do you do? You pit your Governor against your President, and pin all the problems on them. Classic Divisive-ness.
When it comes to being Delusional, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) has the market cornered. Just read this quote from her appearance on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace (9/11/05 – video, courtesy of The Political Teen):
“I am not going to level criticism at local and state officials. Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane. And it’s because this administration and administrations before them do not understand the difficulties that mayors — whether they are in Orlando, Miami, or New Orleans — face. In other words, this administration did not believe in mass transit. They won’t even get people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out…”
Lemme get this straight…the reason for all of this trouble is because it’s hard to get people to work on a sunny day? And somehow the president’s administration bears responsibility for this because they don’t believe in mass transit and Bush himself can’t get people to work on a sunny day. This is insanity.
And there are dozens of quotes like these, from all sides and all perspectives. No one is clean.
For decades to come, historians will look at this disaster and the tragedy that followed from two perspectives. The first will focus on the destructive reality of that powerful storm, and hopefully, the ability to accurately predict future category 5 hurricanes will improve. The second perspective will focus on the dangers that come from competitive governments working against each other at the very moment when they should be working with each other. Future governors, mayors, senators and presidents must learn from these events and take every measure to ensure they don’t happen again.
Next time, the United States must take every precaution to protect itself from future disasters like Katrina, and never witness the repeat performance of the “perfect storm” that results from the clash of Delusional, Dysfunctional, Divisive and Defiant governments.