Sunday, May 21, 2006

The prosecution rests

Interesting comments from a reader who thinks I'm way too tough on New Orleans' mayor-elect. I disagree, but he makes some valid points. Analysis to come on this, but his take on how Republicans helped keep Nagin in office -- if correct -- is quite fascinating:

I voted for Mayor Nagin in 2002. He was the candidate for business and positive change. After his election, Mayor Nagin helped root out corruption in city hall and tried to make the city more business friendly. He had more success in the former than the latter, but it was a positive first step. I had planned to vote for his re-election until he made the Chocolate City remark. The comment didn't offend me or make me feel less welcome in my home town, mainly because I understood that Nagin was trying to pander, a skill which he lacks. Instead, I refused to vote for him because 1) I voted against all incumbents given the city's lack of preparedness for Katrina; and 2) New Orleans right now depends upon the kindness of the strangers, and the rest of nation (upon whose tax dollars we depend for our recovery) viewed him as incompetent and an object of ridicule. His re-election, therefore, could jeopardize New Orleans' recovery.

(sic) Noggin's re-election, however, does not disappoint me. It is a far cry from 1991 when I had to choose between voting for a crook (Edwin Edwards) and a racist (David Duke), whose small-mindedness is surpassed only by his stupidity; yes, I voted for the thief. I believe Nagin will do a decent job while facing impossible conditions (and give comedians much fodder for jokes for as long as they look).

In sum, Nagin is many things, but he is not a Marion Barry or Bill Campbell. Your comment shows a lack of understanding of the situation in New Orleans, though your reaction does not surprise me (a reinforcement of my second reason not to vote for Mayor Nagin). While Mayor Nagin did benefit from the racial divide in New Orleans (he received a supermajority of the black vote), he still needed at least 20% of white vote. How do Nagin get this vote? By getting Republicans to vote for him. First, many Republicans refused to vote for Lt. Gov. Landrieu because his sister is a United States Senator with a liberal voting record. More importantly, the lieutenant governor, for all of his gifts of glib, pandered worse than Nagin: Lt. Gov. Landrieu said that he would appoint former mayors Sidney Barthelme and Marc Moral to important city advisory committees. Republicans do not view the former mayors' honesty and ability in particularly high regard. Landrieu's election, in their opinion, would be a return to the bad ol' days, or probably more accurately, the worse ol' days.

I hope and pray that you will continue to help us rebuild.

Reginald White

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