At 8 pm CST Chris Matthews will co-moderate a debate among the top 7 contenders in the New Orleans’ mayor’s race. The debate will be broadcast nationally on MSNBC, mostly to give displaced voters a chance to see the top-tier candidates in action. I hope that other people watch too. New Orleans needs a lot of help, and most of it is going to come from sources outside of Louisiana. I’d be interested in what folks outside of Louisiana think about the candidates.
I’ve said it before, but just so my bias is clear, I’m for Mitch Landrieu. I like Forman and Nagin but I don’t think they’ll be as effective as Mitch will be. One thing I don’t like about Nagin is his recent effort to suggest that the State of Louisiana has not been as responsive as it should be, and that somehow that’s Mitch’s fault. As many informed people in Louisiana know, the Lieutenant Governor is basically the department head for the Office of Culture and Tourism. In that role, Mitch has been very effective. He’s even gone beyond the basic role of a Lieutenant Governor to help the City in its post-Katrina plight, but it’s disingenous (and it panders to ignorance) for Nagin to suggest that Mitch is responsible for the state’s response. Politicians hate it when the press simplifies a story to the point of perpetuating a distortion, but they are rarely hesitant to perpetuate ignorance if it serves their cause. That’s what Nagin is doing when he suggests Mitch is to be lumped in with Governor Blanco and other legislators who actually are responsible for making key decisions about how to lend support to New Orleans.
Okay, enough of that bandwagon. Here’s some interesting trivia about Forman and Landrieu. I was reading a Q&A of the candidates in a marginally known publication called "Anti-Gravitiy." That magazine is a deep-underground publication mostly devoted to music and eclectic artistic things. You’d have to be in a serious dive bar to find a copy of this free publication (in my case that would have been the Half-Moon Bar). One of the questions put to the candidates asked them to list a book they think is important for people to read right now.
Ron Forman picked Tom Piazza’s Why New Orleans Matters, which is definitely something that captures the essence of our fragile city. That’s a solid pick for any New Orleanian, especially a mayoral candidate. So what did Mitch pick? Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat. I’m sure a lot of people voting in this mayoral election have never heard of that book, or have any idea of what it’s about. Fortunately, at least one of the New Orleans mayoral candidates does, and –more importantly– recognizes that it’s a highly important book.