Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cowardly presidential candidates?

About one week after the JRMC 8350 crew returned from our reporting trip to New Orleans, Times-Picayune reporter John Pope emailed to say that the committee charged with setting up president debates had rejected New Orleans as a site. Instead, they selected Oxford, Mississippi, which doesn't even have enough hotel rooms to accommodate the candidates, their entourages and the press corps.

Today an editorial in the New York Times took the debate committee to task, scoffing at the claim that "New Orleans did not measure up" as a debate site.

Those who've been to New Orleans recently find this implausible.

We were part of a convention with more than 20,000 physician participants and another 10,000 corporate reps and reporters. No one likes creature comforts more than doctors and drug company salespeople, and they looked pretty fat and happy.

New Orleans has worked hard to re-establish itself as a venue for major events, and for better or worse presidential debates draw smaller crowds than Mardi Gras parades or football games.

My guess is that candidates and their handlers are shunning New Orleans because they are too cowardly to face painful issues that a group of Grady students confronted in early November. Courage is needed to engage with people in ruined neighborhoods, contemplate the failures of political will and human decency that created this desolation, and resolve to do what we can to change this.

Surely anyone who aspires to the presidency should be willing to plead his or her case in New Orleans.


Colin Dunlop said...

This is the most disgusting thing I've ever heard.
Words are escaping me at this point, but I'm going to do my best:
I know for a fact that New Orleans has the capacity to hold all those people.
I feel awful for the people of that city. They had the opportunity to tell their story again and it was snatched away from them.
New Orleans will be hosting the Sugar Bowl on January 1 and then a few days later, the College Football National Championship.
Two major championships within a week of each other.
That's four teams and all their fans making the migration to New Orleans -- a city I am confident will be able to roll out the red carpet for both events.

Kimberly Davis said...

The only word I can think of at the moment is: cowards. A cultural memory is being erased bit by bit.

Amber Roessner said...

I can't believe that the presidential candidates turned their backs on New Orleans like that. In my preparation for New Orleans, I read almost a million editorials in favor of New Orleans as the site. Though this group may be cowardly, I certainly am not. When my husband and I travel to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, we plan visiting Common Grounds to see how we might lend a helping hand.

Tabitha said...

Makes me wonder how well these people will be able to handle the country if they can't even handle New Orleans.