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27.9.05

Broussard's attacks cast bad light on all Louisiana officials

Not helping Louisiana’s case to score big from the federal government with reconstruction funds are wacky comments coming from local officials such as Aaron Broussard. The Democrat ex-Kenner mayor, ex-gubernatorial candidate now fills the shoes of the likes of Joe and Mike Yenni and Tim Coulon as Jefferson Parish President. But only until the end of this term, if that, if he keeps flapping his mouth like this.

Broussard gained national attention when he said the federal bureaucracy had “murder” on its hands for its slow response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But it was later shown that the story that he rpesented on which he used to base the charge, complete with his teary histrionics, deviated from the truth, placing the death of an employee’s mother in St. Rita’s Nursing Home days before it happened, before the storm even hit (for which the operators of it have been indicted for 34 counts of negligent homicide).

Which means one of four things happened:

  1. It seems inconceivable that the employee, parish emergency services director Thomas Rodrigue, lied to Broussard. Rodrigue claims he didn’t even see the interview and never told Broussard what Broussard claimed he did.

  2. Broussard’s staff was confused about the information when they told him.

  3. Broussard, overwhelmed by everything, confused the information in his head and cemented it in there as fact to be repeated later.

  4. Broussard lied to achieve maximal dramatic effect.
Again, #1 seems unlikely to have happened, and Broussard does not think Rodrigue was lying (why should he lie about his mother’s death; that’s the last think most people who think to do in such a situation). Were it #2, Broussard would have to explain the staff misinformed him and, wracked by the crisis, he did not think critically through their information and took it as fact even if it makes him look unaware and confused. If it were #3, then Broussard should explain that he was overwrought and confused in that time of crisis. While this becomes instant fodder to be used against him the next time he runs for office, showing his judgment questionable and his temperament maybe unsuitable for the holder of public responsibilities, at least his honesty would have been refreshing, perhaps even redeeming for a future political career.

But if it is scenario #4, the most logical thing to do to hide this would be to attack the questioner – which is exactly what Broussard did. The only other reason to explain his behavior would be that #2 or #3 were the case but Broussard figured the admission that goes along with it was too politically risky to allow out.

And as if shooting the messenger wasn’t enough, Broussard accused questioners of bad faith:

Somebody better wake up. You want to come and live in this community and see the tragedy we're living in? Are you sitting there having your coffee, you're in a place where toilets flush and lights go on and everything's a dream and you pick up your paper and you want to battle ideology and political chess games? Man, get out of my face. Whoever wants to do that, get out of my face.

But what’s interesting is that, even as Broussard paints a picture of misery in the parish, life there is getting back to normal for most, at least in its metropolitan part. They’re having coffee, flushing toilets, and turning on lights for the most part now in Jefferson and thus, I suppose, just as likely to “battle … political chess games” as the next guy.

As a result, Broussard either is a liar who makes reckless charges based on nothing or he lacks good judgment in times of stress, either hurricane- or media glare-induced, and doesn’t have the courage to admit it. These are qualities that probably ensure that you won’t see any buildings, roads, or stadiums named after him any time soon, and makes him the poster child for limiting the amount of money that Louisiana gets for reconstruction from the federal government, with lots of strings attached.

If the ranting Broussard symbolizes the politicians who will be getting money to reconstruct Louisiana, instead of $250 billion out of the federal government, we’ll be lucky to get $250.

1 comment:

John Callender said...

Thank you. As one of the bloggers who looked into this story early, and made a point of pointing out the flaws in Broussard's first Meet the Press appearance when they became apparent, it's gratifying to see some sense being spoken about how his second appearance seemed clearly designed to deflect responsibility for the earlier misstatement.