Methinks that much like Tom Cruise in "A Few Good Men," the politicos just can't handle the truth. It's telling that a national commission in charge of assigning locations for the 2008 presidential debates would argue that New Orleans just "doesn't measure up." That sounds pretty much like how the city has been treated in the two years since Katrina. We're a taboo - sure, our reputation is partially deserved, but...I guess unless you're post-arson southern California, it's impossible to measure up.
Or perhaps pundits just aren't ready to face the harsh reality of post-Katrina NOLA?
I've highlighted some of the more interesting points in Kit Seelye's article in this morning's New York Times.
It's a pity. Mostly, there's just irony in spades.
New York Times
November 20, 2007
Panel Picks 4 Debate Sites, Angering Excluded New Orleans
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
The Commission on Presidential Debates has picked Oxford, Miss.; St. Louis; Nashville; and Hempstead, N.Y., as the sites of the presidential and vice-presidential debates in the general election campaign next year.
New Orleans took offense at its omission, with a leader of one Louisiana advocacy group saying she had been told that the city had not recovered sufficiently from Hurricane Katrina to act as host of such an event. New Orleans was one of 16 finalists and has attracted major conventions since the hurricane devastated much of the city more than two years ago.
This is the first time the bipartisan commission, which has overseen the debates since 1988, plans a format allowing the candidates to question each other. Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., the commission’s Republican co-chairman, said that contrary to past experience, the candidates would not be allowed to change the format. “The candidates aren’t going to dictate to us anymore,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said.
The debates have become a huge traveling road show, with a cast of 4,000 extras from the worlds of politics and the news media. In the case of Oxford, which has only 700 hotel rooms, overnight visitors will be bused to Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis.
In addition to Oxford, where the first presidential debate is to be held Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi, presidential debates are scheduled for Belmont University in Nashville on Oct. 7 and Hofstra University in Hempstead on Oct. 15. The vice-presidential debate is scheduled for Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 2.
The omission of New Orleans drew a sharp reaction from Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who said the commission had “lost sight of the public interest it was chartered to serve.”
Anne Milling, founder of the advocacy group Women of the Storm, said Paul G. Kirk Jr., the commission’s Democratic co-chairman, had told her that New Orleans was “not ready” to be host of a debate, although, she said, the city surpassed all logistical requirements.
“Politics trumped the correct moral decision,” Ms. Milling said. “Supposedly, many people said that they would not be comfortable coming here,” because New Orleans stands as a rebuke to the federal government’s response to the hurricane.
Mr. Fahrenkopf denied any political influence, saying the selections had been based on technical criteria and geographical balance.
And Mr. Kirk denied telling Ms. Milling that New Orleans was “not ready” for a big event.
But acting as host of a presidential debate is “an expensive proposition,” he told The Associated Press, “and presents enormous strategic challenges. All things considered, New Orleans did not measure up.”