The MSNBC/WDSU Mayoral Debate--and a "Cut Them Off" Rant
I am currently in South Florida so I was able to watch the WDSU debate here on MSNBC. Was it me or did Chris Matthews look ill? Norman Robinson seemed to be the guy driving the car--Matthews looked like a sick passenger. Mr. Softball contributed nothing to the debate in my opinion.
I was jumping up and down before the "debate" even started as MSNBC injected the infamous Bob Bennett "ten feet below sea level" quote into the opening montage. WDSU should know better to have allowed this, but I'm quite sure it was created by the Secaucus, NJ MSNBC folk with no direct involvement of WDSU. With all of the soundbites and all of the vivid imagery pre- and post-KTMB to chose from, to use the Bennett clip in the montage proves my point: if a statement is repeated over and over again, it becomes assumed fact regardless of scientifically-provable reality. Is someone besides myself and other local bloggers going to bring the careless use of false fact to attention to make it stop? The Times-Picayune, WWL, WDSU, WVUE, WGNO, WWL Radio, Gambit Weekly--do your damn job (at least on the local level) on this particular "fact." More than half of The Third Battle of New Orleans--the battle for New Orleans' (and Louisiana's) continued existence and relevance--is about being on the right side (and factual side) of perception. Can we at least have facts guiding the perception to the rest of our country and not have myth and downright lies dominate what our fellow American citizens (yes, we are part of the United States in "this part of the world," we're Louisiana, not Liberia) use to gauge whether New Orleans is, gasp, worth saving?
And about the insulting "worth saving" question:
Hey, fellow Americans . . . You like the oil to run your car? You like the gas to heat your home and to cook your food? You like the petrochemicals used to manufacture the plastic which is used in almost everything you own? You like the tons of crap you buy at Wal Mart imported from China? You like being able to get your agricultural product from the Midwest to the markets of the world via ocean-going ships? You like to eat seafood? Fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, crawfish? You like Tabasco or Crystal to flavor your bland cardboard food? You like to drink coffee in the mornings or after your dinner? You like any semblance of culture or historical substance at least one place in the United States?
With no New Orleans and no Louisiana I'm not going to say that access to the above things for American citizens would no longer exist, but I'd definitely say those things would be more difficult to come by and their access seriously impacted without New Orleans and without Louisiana. Chew on that, fellow countrymen. We contribute all these things to the entire United States--at a detrimental cost to our environment and to our own welfare--and there is even the audacity for a question of "worth saving?" Is there any sense of gratitude whatsoever?
Are we at the point that in order to convey the importance of New Orleans to the United States that perhaps the people of this country should be deprived of what New Orleans and Louisiana contribute to the national economy and modern existence of the United States? All ocean-going ships that utilize the Mississippi River rely upon State of Louisiana (not federal) river pilots. What if each ship was charged a fee of a million dollars for the expertise of the river pilots as well as for utilizing the 200 or so miles of ocean-going ship accessible Mississippi River from Southwest Pass upriver to Baton Rouge? What if the gas and oil lines were cut off to the Midwest and the Northeast? Would these things perhaps make those in the other parts of the United States take notice of our unforgivable and inexcusable plight (as a part of the United States mind you) since August 2005?
As long as access to all of the above things continue unabated, then to many (including the current Executive and Legislative braches of the federal government) things are good enough in New Orleans and Louisiana despite anything heard to the contrary. No where to live. No health care. No child care. Insurance company run-around. FEMA indecision and incompetence. Oh well--too bad. But the oil and gas is flowing. The multiple ports (New Orleans, South Louisiana, the LOOP, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, etc.) and petrochemical infrastructure are open for business. Well, maybe we Orleanians and Louisianans need to physically send a message to our country by taking these away and depriving the country their necessities . . . . I am not joking. Governor Blanco threatening not to sign the upcoming offshore oil and gas leases is a good start. Perhaps going even further than that is in order.
This is a good summation of the geopolitical importance of New Orleans--written two days after the MANMADE flooding swamped New Orleans.
About the debate, the original purpose of this post . . .
Three local takes on the WDSU/MSNBC debate:
Your Right Hand Thief
Library Chronicles (plus another post about the peppy WGNO debate held last night)
My quick impressions:
Virginia Boulet: Not her best showing. She looked really bad on her UNO-to-Downtown idea brought up by Nagin and didn't defend it very well in my opinion. I think she is sincere in her caring of the city and is a serious champion of equity to all. She also was at a disadvantage as many of the left field questions thrown out by the Matthews (i.e. do you approve of The President) came to her first not allowing her to think through a response as the other candidates were able to do.
Rob "Inconceivable" Couhig: I like to call him "Doomsday" as he continuously plays the doomsday future card. He raises legitimate points and is obviously intelligent and devoted to New Orleans, but has been abrasive. I think he thinks he has to do this to get noticed. He referred to his "suit of armor" commercial as the best in the history of politics. Wow.
Ron "Bert" Forman: My inlaws referred to him as a puppet, and then--even better--they thought he looked like Bert from Bert and Ernie/Sesame Street. He just didn't have to much to say on this night--and when he did he seemed to mis-speak. Not sure what The Times-Picayune is thinking on their endorsement. Yes, Audubon Zoo turned it around. Yes, Aquarium of the Americas has been a success story. Anything else to say?
Mitch Landrieu: Most polished. Cool under pressure. Appeared highly competent. He handled the "makeup" accusation quite well which if handled badly could have significantly damaged him.
C. Ray Nagin: He appears to be in mellow, cruise-control mode just hoping not to screw up to get to the runoff. It will probably work.
Tom Watson: One issue candidate--racial equity. He has an Al Sharpton effect as he says the things no other candidates will touch.
Peggy Wilson: Where to start. Why in earth was she even involved in this? I was waiting for the hook to come from off-screen and pull her off the stage. Just pathetic. She comes across mean and vindictive. I didn't like her in the early-1990's and I don't like her now. I bet she still gets at least 3% in the primary.
20 APRIL 2006 UPDATE: The Washington Post's most recent story on the upcoming election.