Ask any Ibrahim or Mustapha on the streets of Baghdad about New Orleans and he would answer, “We coulda told ya. Got no electricity? We coulda told ya. Got no running water? We coulda told ya. Got no sewer system? We coulda told ya. Got no police protection? We coulda told ya.”
Katrina, the Russian witch, has brought home to Americans what Iraqis have long known: Accomplishment is looking busy when they turn the TV cameras on.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, already famous for slow and sloth, is setting record low water marks for performance and new high water marks for long TV interviews. Michael Brown, the agency’s director, is in a nose to nose race with Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, for the Donald Rumsfeld Distinguished Service Award given to the federal official showing the most leadership, boldness, vision and success during the previous 12 months.
Iraqis watching the New Orleans drama unfold are suggesting that a section of the city be found which is still dry and not on fire which can be designated a Green Zone. There a little city within a city can be set up with running water, lights, toilets, air conditioning and a mess hall suitable for entertaining visiting politicians and anchormen. The New Orleans Green Zone will have a press room with a raised platform from which government spokespersons can dispense inaccurate and/or meaningless statistics, laughable predictions of progress to come, babble about boots on the ground and praise for the military for bringing democracy and women’s rights to the water logged city.
The biggest payoff by way of praise and honor is bestowed at the White House. It is the Medal of Freedom which is only given by the President to people who have demonstrated outstanding incompetence and failure over an extended period of time. One or two fuck-ups will not qualify, although New Orleans may be an exception.
It is thought that Chernoff is a lead pipe cinch for the medal. He has shown exceptional yes-man abilities, an innate talent for president praising and he is never seen on television making a dull, purposeless, repetitive announcement without a row of American flags behind him.
Iraqis, inured to Chernoffian government, are inviting any New Orleans people who get out to come to Baghdad where they will teach them how to accommodate themselves to filth and despair.