Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life Ark? Really?

Jeffrey examines my Nagin-NOAH-lifeboat line from the other day and finds it to be an imperfect metaphor.

But he accepts the premise anyway and uses it to connect the dots between many of the controversies that have bubbled up within the last week or so - "a veritable flotilla of 'lifeboats.'" It's must-read analysis and also a good primer if you've fallen behind in your reading. Check out the whole thing.

In the recent past, Mayor Nagin was able to stay afloat on his own by insulting his detractors or otherwise downplaying various concerns with his trademark mocking attitude. Whatever the seas sent in his direction - NOAH, the crime cameras, the failure of the city's recovery efforts - he was able to paddle far enough away to drop anchor, fix a leak here and there, and get back to fishing, swimming, and tanning. These storms were far enough apart from each other and not powerful enough to sink the S.S. Nagin on their own.

But now that perfect storm is getting closer and closer. Nagin has stalled investigations for too long, he's laughed off too many problems and is simply running out of ways to avoid accountability.

When it was just leaks causing the boat to take water, Nagin was able to bucket away the water fast enough to avoid fixing the holes in the ship. When it was just a broken sail, Nagin just converted us to paddles. When the crew wanted to know the truth about missing maps, Captain Nagin confused the matter by sewing the seeds of rivalry between the mates and the deckhands.

But it's too much at once now. Repairs can't be made because all of the spare materials have been jerry-rigged to fix other problems. And the crew has noticed.

To fix the rudder you'd have to use the paddles. The sail can't be fixed because all the spare canvass is being used to plug the leaks in the hull.

You might be able to lie and deny your way out of sticky situation or two. You might be able to put off addressing a problem three or four times. But you can't do it forever and ever. At some point the storm comes and the crew all comes for answers at the same time.

This is what is happening now. He could only put off dealing with public records, protect the IT Dept, and avoid NOAH in the midst of a failing rebuilding effort for so long. There is no where left to hide. There are no more jokes to tell.

The controversies are all too interrelated. That's why we're seeing this awkward dance where he attempts to deflect attention from one by bringing up another. His PR crew can't find accomplishments to embellish, they can't find anyone willing to stage a photo op with him, and that's why Nagin has found himself overboard and clinging to whatever flotsam was tossed along with him.

He's trying to deflect from the email disclosure ruling by offering a half-assed response to the NOAH scandal. He's trying to obfuscate his own administration's secrecy with a suspicious leak of Council's emails. He's trying to minimize the crime camera scam by volunteering the same Anthony Jones that he himself hired and whose job he continues to protect.

Now this isn't to say that the Mayor is about to drown. He could very well tread water or hold on to a chunk of driftwood for the rest of time. But we've clearly crossed a threshold in terms of optical ridiculousness and there's no going back. And if Nagin somehow washes up breathing and conscious on some island, he'll certainly be starving, overexposed to the sun, and badly dehydrated.


jeffrey said...

I think the kids are saying LOL in these situations.

Leigh C. said...

I declare this metaphor officially fully explored. You can stick your WCBF flag on it and claim it for citizen journalism. Amen.

Jeffrey said...

You guys are rocking and rolling with this. Keep the hits coming! You, (Other, Librarian) Jeffrey, and Dambala have nailed this.

My only concerns now are:
1. Did the IG undermine some of the case against Meffert and the administration by blowing their wad too early?
2. It's going to suck watching what happens to the national/statewide conversation on New Orleans and post-Katrina recovery when this hits the fan. I hope Obama can help on that front (at least the shit hitting the fan waited until after Bush left office).

Civitch said...

Nagin is smarter than I gave him credit for, but not smart enough to (pardon the continuation of the metaphor) navigate his way out of this tempest.

jeffrey said...

I wonder how closely we should be examining Obama's handling of Blago as a predictive model for how he might deal with Nagin.

My first impression is that he was very hands-off... which is sort of the opposite of what we need right now.

jeffrey said...

Also.. okay "life-ark" is kind of lame too. But I would have liked to see the word ark get into the pun somehow. I don't know... find a way to make it work, man.

Leigh C. said...

Ark of the Covenant?

Whoops, wrong metaphor...