Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Apres "The Great Deluge"

The first full-length book chronicling Hurricane Katrina and its immediate aftermath, The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley, is long on outrage and pointed fingers (perhaps rightly) but short on insight.

Some would say it suffers from too much emotional closeness, as Brinkley is a history professor at Tulane University and a native of New Orleans. Given the scale of said tragedy, the understandable outrage and horror at our ineffective, inert government, I'm not sure any such overage could exist.

That said, Katrina's usual suspects: Nagin, Brownie, Chertoff and Bush, deservedly fare poorly. During an interview with Don Imus on MSNBC this morning, Brinkley stated that Bush's problem during the hurricane was one of bad PR -- he "didn't have a bullhorn moment" and didn't "find a way to connect" with the predominantly minority citizens suffering through unimagineable loss and horror.

Sorry, Doug. You lost me right there. It wasn't about PR, or about bullhorn moments. It was about taking the bull by the horns at the precise moment doing so mattered most. That's not something you can fix with the right staging, or scripting after the fact. As the latest 31 percent Gallup poll approval rating reflects, Americans saw the empty Presidential suit for what it really is, and haven't forgotten.

The best thing about Brinkley's book is that many many others will follow. Hopefully at least one of them will get it right.
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