NEW ORLEANS--I began this day standing at the mouth of the 17th St. Canal (or "the scene of the crime", as I described it to Joe Scarborough), being a local voice for MSNBC, a function I'm about to repeat at the same location for Keith Olbermann. At 6:45 this morning, the sunrise was gorgeous, and the pelicans were feasting on whatever those fish were that kept flashing by in little schools, momentarily flying above the water. That told me that, despite the dire predictions of two years ago, one thing we can know today with certainty is that the lake--Lake Ponchartrain, the one whose surge-engorged waters flooded the city when the levees breached--is alive. The seafood industry, whose infrastructure was devastated by the hurricane, seems to be limping back to life, and the crawfish and the oysters the last two years have been as good if not better than ever.
On the other hand, misery loves company department: photos of President Bush embracing C. Ray Nagin's head are all over the place, as is Nagin's description of them as the "two most vilified" politicians in America. No report whether Bush thought that was a compliment. But some people I know here are aghast at the notion that DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff's name was even floated as a replacement for Alberto Gonzales. Chertoff was Mike Brown's boss, who nobly hung his deputy out to dry as the scapegoat of the Katrina response disaster. But it was Chertoff, not Brown, who was busy in Atlanta on Katrina Tuesday, attending a bird flu conference. Those were the days: Remember bird flu?
The city had many remembrances, bell-ringing and prayers, parades and a front page of thank-yous from the Times-Picayune to some of the many who came here to help. And, at mid-day, the city got one of those fierce storms that feel like somebody ordered a clearance sale on rain, a momentary reminder of the water that changed New Orleans two years ago.