Some very interesting points:
The commission's explanation is a slap in our face. It also contradicts the reality on the ground.
- New Orleans is preparing to host the BCS national championship game Jan. 7.
- The NBA All-Star game takes place here the following month. Both events will attract thousands of reporters from around the world and bring in many times more visitors than a presidential debate.
- The city has hosted several mega-conventions since the storm. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where the debate was to be held, is among the best in the nation. Even the commission's staff recognized this. Ms. Milling said the debate producer told her last year that New Orleans could handle the debate.
Hmmm. Here's something else:
The debate commission claims our city is not ready for their event. But their decision to select the University of Mississippi in Oxford makes it clear that readiness and logistics had nothing to do with it.
New Orleanians do not begrudge the people of Oxford having been selected. But if big-event logistics was the yardstick, there's hardly any comparison. The commission said it needed a minimum 3,000 hotel rooms for journalists and others attending the debate. Fact: New Orleans has 24,000 hotel rooms. Oxford, according to the Oxford Convention and Visitors Bureau, has 650.
The commission also said New Orleans fell short on press facilities and broadcast logistics. That's just not believable. Since Katrina, the city has been swarming with media. And the Morial convention center has state of the art media facilities. Do they really want us to believe Oxford is more media-ready?
No, they're just scrambling for an excuse. But what's the real reason behind this very political gaffe? I think one commenter on NOLA.com put it best:
Posted by chaubert on 11/20/07 at 8:49AM
The reason is obvious: the national public is tired of hearing about New Orleans and Katrina and wants to focus on issues that have more relevance to them. It does NONE of the candidates any good to focus more attention on an issue on which the public has lost interest. We might not like that answer, but it is the truth - in my opinion.
We should focus on 4 years from now, after political changes at the state and local level have had a chance to make an impact. A reform-minded governor, some reform-minded legislators, by then a new mayor and council, reapportionment, a convicted Bill Jefferson, and significant progress in New Orleans due to the efforts of the citizens and the state and local government. Then we might have a chance for more sympathy at the national level.
In completely unrelated news, the Hornets lost last night to the Magic, and suffered yet another key injury. Sigh.