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Leadership Defines New Orleans Mayoral Race

The effects of Hurricane Katrina may be felt by New Orleans for years to come. Much has been done to put the devastation in the past. However, the mayoral election of New Orleans has dredged up the memory of Katrina. As New Orleans’nagin Landrieu.jpg voters go to the polls tomorrow to elect a mayor, leadership is the central issue.

Current Mayor Ray Nagin is seeking re-election and has found himself in the familiar position of defending himself and claiming to be a victim of evil. Nagin made my list of those that failed to lead in 2005. Unfortunately for Nagin and fortunately for the citizens of New Orleans, Katrina offered a proving ground for Nagin’s leadership. Nagin failed.

Leaders are often defined by crises and how they react to adversity. Think Giuliani in the hours after 9-11. According to a new book, Nagin didn’t measure up. "The Great Deluge," was written by Tulane University historian Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley covers a week of the Hurricane Katrina debacle and according the Washington Post, depicts New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin as “too vain, too stunned and too paranoid to have been effective in the city's crisis.”

I can’t speak to the leadership ability of Nagin’s opponent, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. The two candidates squared-off in a debate on Hardball last week. Leadership will decide the outcome. Not a good sign for Nagin. I am not making a political endorsement. I know Nagin failed to lead before, during and after Hurricane Katrina and missed the opportunity to prove his leadership – when it mattered. The policy differences of the two candidates are minimal. So the decision of voters will be “who can get it done.” 

For sheer amusement, don’t miss Dangerblond’s clever review of Nagin.

2 Comments/Trackbacks

Hal, in light of what you say here I am saddened by the leadership results we see in this area... and at a time when we need strong leaders to rebuild. because I was unaware of some of the facts -- your post reminded me that I should dig them out. Guess I find myself asking as peter,Paul and Mary did -- "Where have all the leaders gone?" If you were advising the mayor... now that he is in... what would you advise him as a top priority to succeed for that area...his skills...and the times we face ahead...? Any thoughts?

Ellen >> Thanks for the thoughts. Mayor Nagin isn't a leader in my opinion. Maybe he could learn some skills but he has repeatedly missed opportunities to make a difference and have an impact. He has chosen instead to blame others and defensively avert taking responsibility. Contrast that to Governor Mitt Romney of Mass and the floods that recently occurred in the northeast. The disasters do not compare but Romney showed why he is one of the best governors in the land and a leader.

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