I agree with Rep. Pete King, (R-NY), for perhaps the first time:
Ray Nagin needs to shut up.
CNN reported Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans who recently won a close re-election bid, is known for "his blunt style." That is at best an understatement and at worst an amazing softball toss at a man who proudly proclaimed that New Orleans would be "a chocolate city" once again after the reconstruction efforts.
In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, CBS' Byron Pitts asked questions about washed away houses on public streets and flooded cars that remained scattered about the city. These were pointed questions, and yes, they were meant to put Nagin on his toes, and perhaps Pitts knew and even hoped Nagin would respond emotionally.
And he did.
"You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed and it’s five years later. So let’s be fair."
What's fair is fair, and Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in American history. It took far too many lives and displaced far too many more. Mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, grandparents and children died, and nobody disputes that or downplays that disaster.
Nagin, however, took the issue too far and accused the country of ignoring the people's plight in New Orleans and like a third grader who thinks his toy isn't as good as his neighbor's toy, accused New York of not being able to clean up its own "hole in the ground" caused by the World Trade Center crashing into the earth on September 11, 2001.
This isn't the first time King has spoken out on the subject of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans to the press. In 2005, he noted armed gangs were blocking relief efforts and attacking rescue workers.
Nagin's recent comments contribute to his already tarnished national image. King spoke to the CBS Radio Network today calling the comments disgraceful. CBS.com's readers have also been quick to come out against Nagin, and a sense of outrage is clearly readable on the pages.
"My problem is that yes 80% of New Orleans flooded, mostly poor blacks, but 100% of St Bernard parish flooded, white middleclass. You hear nothing of St. Bernard. I lost my car (we left in one), my house was under 24 feet of water, as was my job, which is gone now too, and I took one suitcase of clothes for each of us, thats it." — "lbarca"
"Mayor Nagin needs a dose of reality. If blame was a pie his slice of blame is the largest, then the Parish, then the State, then the Federal Government.
Most of rebuilding problems right now are due to their two hundred year history of local government corruption." — "hdav06"
"I am sick and tired of hearing about New Orleans! It was one city that was messed up by Katrina. Three Quarters of the State of Mississippi was devestated! (sic) Mr Nagin, I hope you are reading this. Don't tell me you did not know what was about to happen to your city…I heard the comment made by GOV. Blanco when asked why was Mississippi leaps and bounds ahead of Louisiana in the clean up effort; her comment was, "Mississippi did not have as much damage as New Orleans." Are you kidding me?!?!?!? Mississippi is ahead in the clean up effort because we have done something about it. We have not sat and waited for someone else to do it, nor have we played the blame game" – "ArmySapper1"
As more and more mainstream media outlets allow their readers to comment on their stories, we are beginning to see real debate take place over the news. This ability to discuss the news often results in over-inflated comments and out and out ranting, but even that shows that, if nothing else, people do care about what goes on around them.
CBS is quick to put a plainly-worded disclaimer above their public comments section:
Now you're in the public comment zone. What follows is not CBS News stuff; it comes from other people and we don't vouch for it.
When you anger people who have passionate feelings one way or the other, they will talk. When the Internet provides these same people with the concrete wall of anonymity, they yell.
Nagin, however, has been slow to heed the warning signs.
But then, he's already won re-election.