Democrat political guru and former Clinton confidant James Carville, one of the people who’s responsible for the current state of governance in both Louisiana and America at large, penned an op-ed at the New Orleans newspaper this morning which deserves a response.
And we thought we’d provide the most detailed answer we could, out of respect for the fact that Carville admitted that New Orleans, a city he lives in and has played a role in creating in its current state, “is not working.”
It isn’t the greatest piece of literature we’ve ever seen, but like most things Carville says, there is truth in it amid the falsehoods he spins.
When it became public knowledge in 2008 that Mary and I were moving to New Orleans, The Washington Post asked me why we were leaving Washington. My reply was, “I do not want to grow old among strangers.”
Wow, has that paid off.
I literally cannot walk a block in this city without being treated with recognition and respect. As a Roman Catholic and a Democrat, I am guided by the command of the Gospel of St. Luke and the admonition of President John F. Kennedy, who said, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”
OK, whatever. Little bit of “look how much everybody loves me here,” but we guess that’s intended to warm up the people of New Orleans before he trashes the city. Except he isn’t going to say anything that everybody in New Orleans already knows and probably thinks is worse than Carville does.
New Orleans has given me much. It pains me very much to say this, but our city is, quite simply, not working. I will spare you a depressing litany of details. We all know them all too well.
And there you go.
It probably would be worthwhile to go through the litany of details. Particularly given the latest outrage – a brutal murder caught on camera, after which the mayor and police chief threw a public fit that the man recording the murder didn’t call 911. Of course, the video the man shot and released onto social media apparently played a role in the apprehension of the murderer, which to us makes it sound like he’s every bit as effective a law enforcement asset as anyone earning a living in that profession in Orleans Parish.
It seems to me there are three ways that our elected leadership can deal with this situation:
1. Denial. The truth of the matter is we already have our own river. We don’t need another one from Egypt. If we don’t face reality, things will never change.
Cute. Exactly what reality does Carville propose to face, though? That leftist economic policies in New Orleans for decades running have destroyed the city’s industrial and manufacturing base? That awful government schools have created a population unsuited for work beyond that of busboys and hotel maids? That a dysfunctional and lazy law enforcement and judicial system provides criminals with no disincentive to do their worst? That a corrupt government has squandered and stolen tens of billions of dollars intended for maintenance and improvement of crumbling city infrastructure?
We could go on. But given that Carville has been a political guru for dysfunctional leftist politicians in New Orleans off and on for a half-century, maybe he owes us a bit more on the subject of just what the reality is that he believes the Big Easy needs to face.
2. Point fingers and blame one another. I could go back to Washington and get all of that I need.
3. Recognize that our city’s strongest asset is the creativity and talent of its citizens. After Hurricane Katrina, citizens demanded major reforms and made them happen organically.
With some $150 billion in federal dollars, of course. Naturally, most of that money was stolen and wasted by Democrat politicians in whose hands it was entrusted. Perhaps Carville is talking about the creative and talented ways it was stolen; we can’t say. What we can say is New Orleans had a window of opportunity after Katrina to use those resources to build a sparkling new city upon the historic foundation of its past, and after a few years without any political leadership at all (under Ray Nagin’s second term New Orleans was in a state of semi-anarchy), the economy actually seemed to flourish.
But as soon as Carville’s pal Mitch Landrieu took office, that renaissance came to a screeching halt over the course of a short few years. And Landrieu spent his second term not finding ways to rebuild an industrial or commercial base or making New Orleans a city worth doing business in, but instead campaigning to knock down historic landmarks in an effort to get headlines for himself and become a national name among Democrats.
James Carville never publicly repudiated that atrocious leadership. He’s softly doing it now that LaToya Cantrell, who he doesn’t have any influence over, is simply continuing down the same road Landrieu pointed the city on. He says he’s not blaming anybody, but what this is about is old-school white Democrats bitching that the new-school neocommunists to whom they’ve ceded control of the Democrat Party particularly in its urban centers just aren’t as good at running things.
Well, James, you created this monster. You began the process of weaponized governmental failure that transformed New Orleans into a city that elects LaToya Cantrells. So no, New Orleans’ strongest asset isn’t the talent of its citizens. Its current citizens are a small skim of rich like you who can buy their way into a viable standard of living, and a mass of wretched poor victimized by a government and criminal class allied with each other.
Which is exactly what you wanted. Just know that when you then attempt to do what lots of others have done, which is to decamp for the leafier environs in St. Tammany Parish or some similar place, you’re unlikely to receive the welcome you received in Orleans. Might as well stay in the ruin you’ve helped to create.
Why can’t talented people, neighborhood associations, pastors, universities, and civic and business leaders lead the way — again — by developing real strategies that address the numerous challenges we face?
Let’s do what our great river and our great Carnival krewes do: Let’s get rolling.
We’re reminded of the climactic scene in the great Danny DeVito movie Other People’s Money. If you haven’t seen this, you’re in for a treat…
Get rolling? New Orleans is dead.
The only hope New Orleans has is to take on a subservient role as another part of the metropolitan area in which it sits begins to lead. That role should be taken on by Jefferson Parish, which has its problems but is at least somewhat capable of maintaining its streets, draining its water and prosecuting criminals.
Jefferson has to lead and Orleans has to follow. Because New Orleans’ time has passed, and it was people like James Carville who destroyed it.
It’s nonetheless nice to know that Carville recognizes the damage. We can credit him for at least that much.