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September 6, 2005
Katrina: The Memes Die Last

The notion that the federal government has primary authority over cities and states, an error that any high-school graduate should recognize, has slowly begun to fade from media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In its place comes dawning realization of the massive failure of Louisiana and New Orleans to initiate their own disaster plans and to use their available assets to maintain control in New Orleans. On CNN yesterday, even Mayor Ray Nagin now recalls his civics classes, although he still hasn't done much to take responsibility for his own failures to follow his own detailed emergency response plan:

S. O'BRIEN: What has Secretary Chertoff promised you? What has Donald Rumsfeld given you and promised you?

NAGIN: Look, I've gotten promises to -- I can't stand anymore promises. I don't want to hear anymore promises. I want to see stuff done. And that's why I'm so happy that the president came down here, because I think they were feeding him a line of bull also. And they were telling him things weren't as bad as it was.

He came down and saw it, and he put a general on the field. His name is General Honore. And when he hit the field, we started to see action.

And what the state was doing, I don't frigging know. But I tell you, I am pissed. It wasn't adequate.

And then, the president and the governor sat down. We were in Air Force One. I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two have to get in sync. If you don't get in sync, more people are going to die.'

S. O'BRIEN: What date was this? When did you say that? When did you say...

NAGIN: Whenever air Force One was here.

S. O'BRIEN: OK.

NAGIN: And this was after I called him on the telephone two days earlier. And I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two need to get together on the same page, because of the lack of coordination, people are dying in my city.'

S. O'BRIEN: That's two days ago.

NAGIN: They both shook -- I don't know the exact date. They both shook their head and said yes. I said, 'Great.' I said, 'Everybody in this room is getting ready to leave.' There was senators and his cabinet people, you name it, they were there. Generals. I said, 'Everybody right now, we're leaving. These two people need to sit in a room together and make a doggone decision right now.'

S. O'BRIEN: And was that done?

NAGIN: The president looked at me. I think he was a little surprised. He said, "No, you guys stay here. We're going to another section of the plane, and we're going to make a decision."

He called me in that office after that. And he said, "Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor." I said -- and I don't remember exactly what. There were two options. I was ready to move today. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision.

S. O'BRIEN: You're telling me the president told you the governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?

NAGIN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Regarding what? Bringing troops in?

NAGIN: Whatever they had discussed. As far as what the -- I was abdicating a clear chain of command, so that we could get resources flowing in the right places.

S. O'BRIEN: And the governor said no.

NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision. It would have been great if we could of left Air Force One, walked outside, and told the world that we had this all worked out. It didn't happen, and more people died.

Michelle Malkin has more memes that now look to be fading out. The children who had their throats slit, the rapes, and the corpses in the Superdome now appear to be nothing but urban legends. The same is true for the black people having to eat human corpses to stay alive in New Orleans, a lie spread by civil-rights activist Randall Robinson but now retracted. Ditto, apparently, for the story about the police shooting a teenager after running him down with their car. Don't expect these retractions and factual rebuttals to make much difference, but it does show how much of the initial Exempt Media coverage relied on hysterical and poorly sourced rumors. Take that into consideration when relying on them to tell you that George Bush was derelict in his duty because he failed to violate the Constitution and the sovereignty of Louisiana while its governor dithered on the state's emergency response.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 6, 2005 6:58 AM

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