Over on DallasMorningViews, The Dallas Morning News' editorial page blog, Rod Dreher warns us that The News' editorial board is churning the question whether New Orleans needs to be saved any more than it already has. Rod is a great writer, so he does an elegant job of expressing his own latent self-loathing as a native of the Bayou State:
“I struggle between wanting the rest of the country to do more for Louisiana, and between knowing how screwed up and self-defeating the state's political culture is, and how the people of Louisiana have got to be allowed to suffer the consequences of their (well, our) toleration of incompetence and corruption, so much of which contributed to this disaster.”
I was full of sin, Lord, and I knew the only way I could atone was move to Dallas. Rod, you couldn’t have been that bad.
I guaran-damn-tee you that whatever they come up with over there at the Beloan Academy of Higher Ponderation, it will be an editorial looking down a very long nose at New Orleans for not being more, well, you know, obviously more like Dallas. I happen to be working on a column for next week about Katrina and the Trinity River project, so all of this is on my mind.
I wrote an item for Unfair Park a few days ago that addressed Katrina a little, but it was really more about the Minnesota bridge collapse. I tried to make the point that the real “corruption,” if that’s not too churchy a word, is in the way we all force the Corps of Engineers to violate its own policies so we can get what we want. I talked specifically about how The News' editorial page bravely tried to address this issue with reference to the Trinity River project, then had to write a special retraction editorial the very next day when the publisher got back from out of town and threw a hissy.
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I just listened to an old podcast of National Public Radio's On the Media in which several New Orleans journalists were interviewed, all of them sharing the view that the Corps of Engineers is the devil. Almost in passing they mentioned -- without explanation -- that the Corps’ own analysis of Katrina and the levee failures cited numerous instances in which the Corps’ own flood control measures in New Orleans had violated Corps policy.
The local take on that is: “Look, they admit it! They broke their own rules.”
But anybody should be able to see through that. What is the Corps really telling us? It’s a cry for help. What they are really saying is, “You locals use the political thumbscrews all the time to make us violate dour own national policies, and look what happens. You lose.”
There simply is no better example of this than the Trinity River toll road. And for that, The News and especially its editorial board have pimped as hard as anybody in the Quarter ever did. Maybe they should all get on a bus and drive over there to the Big Easy to get themselves saved. Baptized, anyway. --Jim Schutze