FAILURE IN LEADERSHIP: As the enormity of the hurricane disaster continues to tailspin out of control, who is taking accountability? Who is in charge?

Surely not New Orleans police officers; several of whom were filmed by a stunned field reporter looting a Wal-mart. Most certainly not Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Governor Kathleen Blanco who have decried the deplorable situation in their home state loudly on the news circuit. And definitely not New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin.

Not that I profess to be any expert on disaster relief, but it's my understanding that planning for massive disasters is not simply the job of the Federal Government. Initially, state and local officials need to have an adequate plan in place; they need to understand what supplies and resources will be required. The Federal Government does not have planes of nurses and fresh water loaded up and ready to go where any disaster strikes. Instead, it is the duty of state government to prepare for the initial onslaught of disasters until the Federal Government can respond.

The role of FEMA--which has already been widely criticized and to much extent, rightly so--is to help with state and local efforts to command and coordinate until more resources arrive. I fear in the coming days, we may discover that these resources were simply not in place.

Over the past several days, New Orleans' untested political leader has said little to inspire confidence to a population clamoring for a sliver of hope. Instead, he has repeatedly spoken of the massive casualties and placed fault of the increasingly disturbing human story squarely on the shoulders of the federal government.

In an interview with WWL-AM Nagin completely dismissed comments that requests aid from local and state officials first. Instead, he responded hostilely that:
"We authorized $8bn to go to Iraq, lickety spit. After 9/11 we gave the president unauthorized powers, licked spit, to take care of New York and other places. Now you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique... that you can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need?"

Good point. But, you need to do your job too. The scale of the tragedy is massive, but it is the role of the mayor of New Orleans to provide leadership and direction for the struggling refugees, not to provide ignorance and desperation. He went on:
"I don't know whose problem it is, I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their asses on the plane and sit down the two of them and figure this out, right now."

Hallelujah. But right now, let's not focus on assessing blame and wringing our hands in frustration. Let's get the job done. At some point, we'll have to sit down and figure out why inefficiency on behalf of our public officials has cost lives. With utmost respect, Mayor Nagin isn't helping.

Mayor Nagin is the problem, not Bush.

The governor of Lousiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, stated President Bush declared as disaster areas those most likely to be hit by Katrina - TWO DAYS before landfall in Louisiana. That Nagin frittered that precious time away is not Bush's fault. Nagin can weep, wail, gnash his teeth and generally act like a spoiled brat but it doesn't change the fact the failure was his, and his alone.

After we get a handle on the situation, I would like to see an investigation begin over criminal negligence on the part of Mayor Nagin. He had more than ample time to minimize the impact of this tragedy, and I would like him to account for the 48-hour head-start Bush gave him.
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