Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Toward more pasteurized speech

Way to use that Nagin!

All week, the blogosphere has been abuzz about New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's notorious speech. And rightfully so; portions of it seemed to have been cowritten by the unholy speechwriting team of Pat Robertson and Shirley MacLaine. I'd be dishonest, however, if I overlooked the doubtlessly sincere points Nagin was trying to make. And while he may not be the best man to address these issues (rhetorically or literally), they nevertheless remain:

1) The current chaos and violence resulting from Katrina illustrates just how far away from Dr. King's dream we truly are as Americans.

2) If New Orleans is going to be rebuilt, it should be done so in the manner best representing those who lived there before and made it the unique place that it was.

3) Black-on-black crime is a big deal and adds to an already bleak situation for minorities living in poverty.

4) The United States needs to acknowledge the mistakes it has made in both foreign and domestic policies, and understand how one affects the other.

As for Nagin's "chocolate city" metaphor, that doesn't sound any different from anything I might write if I were trying to evoke a provocative image. But that doesn't make it any less stupid. So with that in mind, here's a speech I have ghostwritten for Mayor Nagin as a freelance effort at damage control.

Good morning, fellow New Orleanians. Once again, I greet you all in the spirit of peace, love and, most importantly, in the spirit of unity. Because I understand at this point that everyone is united against me. And if you're unified, there's nothing that I can do.

On Monday morning, I gave some remarks about channeling the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When I woke up early the next morning, the entire news media was reflecting upon what I said. And it wasn't nice. So I found myself reflecting on what I should say today as a form of damage control. And so I decided to talk directly to that master of damage-control himself, Richard Nixon.

Now you might think that's one Katrina post-stress disorder, and you'd be right. But I was talking to Nixon and I wanted to know what he thought about my previous remarks. What would he think about my supernatural, yet banal, quoting of Dr. King? And how would he feel about me saying that God is taking out his rage at insane Republican policies by devastating one of the biggest Democratic bases in America? Nixon said, "Wow, even I wouldn't have said that."

What would he say about the relentless party-hopping I have done to attain power, which has now resulted in almost universal disdain? Nixon said, "Don't try to take on a new personality; it doesn't work."

Surely God is mad at America; he's sending demagogue after demagogue after demagogue and it's putting stress on discourse in this country. Surely he's upset at our currently divided America, and Pat Robertson has already reminded us of what happens to those who choose to divide land. Are we headed for a massive stroke of policy? And how can I, as a leader, avoid damage from such hot air? Nixon responded, "I wish I could give you a lot of advice, based on my experience of winning political debates. But I don't have that experience. My only experience is at losing them."

What would he think about my choice of chocolate imagery, that gives my conservative detractors all the bait they'll ever need to justify the lackluster federal response to Katrina? Nixon said, "You gave 'em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish. And I guess if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing."

When I say New Orleans is a chocolate city, I mean that dark chocolate must come together with white milk to make the delicious concoction that everyone loves. In this case, the delicious confection is the milk-chocolate bar that is New Orleans. Milk, chocolate and bars. So metaphorical, and yet so literal! And if good old American junk food and liquor can't bind all people together, than what will? No matter what, this city will be gooey and delicious at the end of the day.

In closing, I asked Nixon to analyze the state of my black leadership in New Orleans. He said, "They won't have Ray Nagin to kick around anymore."

God bless all, and have a good day.

10 comments:

oyster said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
oyster said...

Excuse me.

Nice work, Ian. Sorta reminds me of those Bill Safire columns where he'd channel Tricky Dick.

Only your piece is actually funny and insightful

Phillip said...

i'd contribute a testicle to have nixon in office right now.

Nick said...

1. If Joey Durell would give a speech and say, "Lafayette always has been and always will be a vanilla city, and we don't care what those people on the northside say." What would be your reaction, Icon?

2. I thought the part about black on black violence being the city's biggest problem was true. Sometimes I wonder if Nagin actually does care for the people of New Orleans, but he was just too incompetent to use the buses to get them out. I had no real problem with his speech except for him going into Pat Robertson mode. Maybe he's just crazy.

3. Phizz, put your testicle in a jar and I'll lead an effort to get G. Gordon Liddy the nomination. That might get you close enough to a Nixon Administration.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, I said the chocolate comment was stupid, if that's the point you're trying to make. But I do think that Lafayette is a vanilla city. If not in terms of race, than in its banality.

Oyster, I've linked the levee site in my sidebar. Thanks for the input.

Phillip, I agree. Nixon at least ahd the Clean Air Act and opened up relations with China ratherthan bomb it because he didn't like the color of its flag. Liddy as president? Hell, that still might be better than Bush. Liddy talks about how to shoot a federal agent, so maybe he wouldn't be the biggest advocate of Gigantic Government.

Phillip said...

my comment was sort of bogus, since the girl i was dating in 2003 still has both of my testicles in a jar. i guess i don't have much bartering power.

Flamingo Jones said...

Nixon also signed the Title IX Act. Please don't forget about that one...it's important to me, and one of the reasons I never say anything TOO bad about the man.

Ian McGibboney said...

Yes, Title IX, definitely. One of the most just laws ever passed. Also the reason I enjoyed my decade in scholastic sports (or most other things--wouldn't have been as much fun with all guys).

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nick said...

I actually didn't have a problem with Nagin's chocolate reference. Hell, New Orleans is and probably always will be 75% black, so he was accurate. I've just been curious to know how the media would react if a white mayor like Durell said that about a majority white city.

I find myself starting to feel a little sorry for Nagin. Not that I don't blame him for allowing the people whom he always bussed to the polls drown. But, I just wonder now if was a complete lack of competence rather than lack of apathy. It's just a roller coaster with him. If you go by the Times Picayune article, he went from the crazy chocolate reference, to telling many of the blacks the truth about their main problem, black on black violence and crimes, to Pat Roberston "God sent Katriana b/c of Iraq and black crimes."

I guess it's fitting Nagin is the mayor of the city with the Saints. Every now and then, the Saints will show great promise with a potent offense and a decent pass defense, yet, they always find a way to screw up and send a whole game crashing down on their own. Lack of discipline? Common sense?