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July 31st, 2007, 12:51
Nagin is one of the prominent central "characters" in the documentary. He gets it from both sides, positive and negative. The thing about the buses is not mentioned but he gets flak for first consulting the companies and corporations that operate in the New Orleans area (the most influential part of his constituency probably) about how to proceed and only thinking about his citizens second. Also he gets criticised for shifting blame on governor Blanco and the federal governement/Bush for stuff he could have done himself (like JDR13 said). The fact that he ultimately openly voiced frustration towards the governement while jeopardizing his own career (he actually thought the CIA or FBI were going to silence him, a scary thought if you realise that a mayor is seemingly scared shitless by his own government) makes him a hero in some eyes but it doesn't get blown out of proportions in the doc. His remarks about a chocolate city make more sense (although still being racist in tone) if you watch the doc I guess because the Bush administration at least has appearances against it when it comes to the fact that they have done nothing to facilitate the return of people to New Orleans and the population is predominantly black. In the mean time a lot of (white) investers are seizing the opportunity to buy (seize?) land and properties at bargain prices. But this whole discussion is probably more complicated than can be distilled from the doc. As an outsider to this all my view of Nagin by watching the doc would be of a moderately vain career man who wanted to do good but who got confronted by a major disaster in which he was completely out of his league. He probably was taking a career risk when he openly voiced his frustration but that shouldn't even remotely compare to the fate of his people who lost their lives, their properties, their families and their future. I think it was his duty by way of his elected position in office at that time. In hindsight he may have taken some bad decisions but I don't think it was out of malice. I would recommend viewing the doc, I think Spike Lee has done a good job of portraying the human side to the disaster and all the major policy makers that were willing to participate get fair screen time. Indirectly he does take a quite clear and strong moral stance on the issue (being failing/neglectful government) by his editing, but that is to be expected with a Spike Lee production.
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