I have to admit that I have never been a fan of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin who appeared to be the very symbol of dysfunctional incompetence during the Katrina catastrophe. He was universally criticized for doing relatively little during the crisis from his hotel room overlooking the disaster. His reelection left many less sympathetic with the city and, as a former New Orleans resident myself, I was appalled by Nagin’s utter failure to act (let alone lead) during the disaster. Nagin has now written a book that seems intent on showing that he is not really incompetent . . . just completely delusional.
Nagin writes about his belief during the disaster that there was a vast conspiracy against him and that the federal government might try to poison him. He also believed that the city’s wealthiest citizens were trying to buy his hotel room — a hilarious suggestion since they would have been able to listen in on days of his inaction and ravings.
One of “Katrina’s Secrets” was how Nagin dealt with his belief that people in the federal government were out to murder him.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m a dead man! I have just publicly denounced the governor, U.S. Senators, FEMA and the president of the United States.’ I started wondering if during the night I would be visited by specially trained CIA agents. Could they secretly shoot me with a miniature, slow-acting poison dart?
When he visited the USS Iwo Jima, an amphibious assault ship used as a base of federal operations, officials took him to the infirmary for medical care. Two medical staffers wanted to give him shots to protect him from the conditions in the city. Nagin writes “I was still a little paranoid and again started imagining a secret CIA plot where in six months I would be gone. After thinking for a minute, I said to them, ‘Okay, you can give me shots, but I want you to do the same for my two security guys.’ . . . My thinking was it would have been easier to spin that stress ultimately took me out, but it would be much harder to explain all three of us suddenly dying mysteriously.”
Nagin says the writing of the book was “therapeutic” experience. Well at least he is getting some therapy.
Now here is the true kicker. After his scandalous incompetence and inaction, Nagin has launched a new career . . . as a disaster consultant. Not as a disaster himself, mind you. A disaster consultant.
18 thoughts on “Ok, Nagin’s Crazy”
good comment Randall, there’s blame to go around and that’s a sure thing.
The 17th Street Canal that flooded most of the city only breached on the right hand side. The left hand walls of this canal could have easily breached and flooded the predominately white suburbs of Jefferson. The spillway flood-walls along the western areas of these suburbs were at 45 degree angles after the storm. If the storm had passed further westward the situation would have been much worse as neighboring parishes would have also flooded. And there were no mandatory evacuations for these areas, nor were there school buses parked on high ground or other preparations. In the mid 90’s the Army Core of Engineers wanted to put floodwalls at the foot of the canals but the corrupt New Orleans Water board axed the plans. Those floodwalls have been built post Katrina and would have saved the city from Kartina.
Nagin is a scapegoat. The previous comment on Marc Morial is uninformed. Morials brother, cronies, etc. have all been investigated or indicted for corruption. Nagin is a crook and I’d never buy his book, but I’m intelligent enough to realize it’s unethical to place most of the “who is responsible” blame on a single person. People in Louisiana love LSU, Saints, Mardi Gras, and life in general; they could care less about politics and the result is a corrupt and inept government.
Haha – some friend nagin was…he thinks he he might be poisoned and then insists they get the poison too. ummm thanks I will just be over here with my enemies mr. mayor.
Marc Morial was the mayor when I lived there. The city needs him back. His little sister was in my class at Tulane (she was really cute)
i saw the daily show when nagin was on and i’d have to disagree with frank. i thought js was going to fall out of his chair when nagin told him he was a disaster consultant.
Why shouldn’t Nagin write a hallucinatory, self-serving book? Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich are making a living doing it, why shouldn’t he?
And about Mayor NounVerbNineEleven – if he could move the disaster response center for the city INTO the building that had previously been the target of a terrorist attack because it is world famous and an icon of what groups like al Qaeda hate, and he could then become “a security consultant,” why shouldn’t Nagin sell himself as a good-governance consultant and sing his own praises?
I think a key to being perceived as a strong leader in a crisis to to present the attitude that things aren’t that bad and are under control. Of course, this gives total idiots a huge advantage – if you aren’t intellectual capable of understanding what deep shit you’re in, it’s easy to convey confidence. Sociopaths have a similar advantage…
Did Nagin do a good job as Mayor during Hurricane Katrina? No, of course not. But given the fact that NO was a relatively poor town with a population below 500,000 and declining, what could a mayor of a town like that do in a major disaster? As a Chicagoan, I expect a lot more from our city in a major emergency, as I do of New York city – they are far larger and wealthier than (sorry, but) dinky little New Orleans.
Nagin deserves plenty of blame, but it should be in proportion and association with the blame deserved by the state and the federal governments.
If someone is equating the performance of Mr. Nagin with Mr. Guiliani, please review the facts and put political leanings aside in one’s assessment. Mr. G resisted finger pointing and mobilized action. Mr. N could not be accused of same. Mr. G did have a bad apple shadowing him, but we are talking about NYC here. New York can only be rivaled by Chicago or Moscow for scummy politics. I’d give G a break on that one if you have to compare him to N. NYC is the most diversified and socially fluid area in-the-world. It’s defined as the great melting pot of humanity in a free and open society. Problem solving and disaster response in NYC goes well beyond the scope of rebuilding a “chocolate city”. The nature of the disasters of NYC and NO are vastly different. However, equating the response and effectiveness of their respective actions or lack thereof is a flawed exercise, IMHO.
As I watched the Katrina disaster for days on end with horror and disgust, I was continually shocked by how gently Nagin was treated by the news media, to the point at times of glorification. It reminds me of Guiliani after 9/11 being touted as America’s Mayor for making some self-serving speeches and appearing to be in charge, while his ex-chauffeur Police chief was using government property for continued adulterous trysts. Nagin assisted the poor and the Blacks in N.O. to either die, or leave town and help bring on the current attempt to turn a great city into a kind of Jazz and Cajun Disneyland, with a diminished population of the “wrong kind” of people.
Uh oh, you used the “D” word. There is a lot of D out there for sure.
“new career . . . as a disaster consultant”
Now that’s an oxymoron.. errr well maybe just a moron..
And such is the quality of our elected officials.
” After thinking for a minute, I said to them, ‘Okay, you can give me shots, but I want you to do the same for my two security guys.’ . . . My thinking was it would have been easier to spin that stress ultimately took me out, but it would be much harder to explain all three of us suddenly dying mysteriously.”
He probably had a couple of if not one “food taster” on stand by to.
Not much has changed…really…
I saw him the other night on TDS and was surprised at how insane he was & that Stewart didn’t call him out on this bullshit. Though I expect that the trolls here and IRL will soon enough be quoting him as gospel on the disaster response.
Ray “God is mad at America” Nagin delusional? No more so than any other adherent to superstition and wishful thinking.
Heck of a job, Nagy.
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