I caught the 60 Minutes profile of the New Orleans Chief of Police yesterday. Even discounting my distrust of 60 Minutes and the obvious CYA, I was pretty impressed with the guy. He seemed a very decent sort put in a terrible situation. He was not very pleased with brother officers who deserted their jobs and neither were other cops they talked to. Seems pretty clear that — unless the union or some such says different — those cops who deserted won’t have jobs waiting for them in the New New Orleans.
He said one thing I thought was pretty interesting, which seems to get lost in a lot of the post-mortems. He said the morning after the hurricane he was packing up his car to take his kid to college. In other words, Katrina wasn’t that big a deal. It was the levee breaking. I know this is apparent in the tick-tocks, but it certainly gets lost in the generic TV coverage. If the levees hadn’t broken, everyone would have said holding people in the Superdome was an inspired idea and everything would have been fine, comparatively speaking. Bush would have done the usual disaster area tour and that would have been it. FEMA would have delivered. The Red Cross and Salvation Army would have been allowed in. Etc. This doesn’t absolve many folks from blame, but it does add a perspective left out on the Today Show.