And more Brinkley:
As the president toured the 17th Street Canal breach, Air Force One sat on the tarmac at Louis Armstrong International Airport. In the next few minutes, various state, local, and federal officials, few of whose reputations had been enhanced over the last five days, would convene aboard the aircraft. And each of them knew it. Nagin, arriving before the president, was offered a hot shower by an attendant on board, remembered Ron Forman.
Having lived in humid weather for days without any clean water, Nagin leapt at the chance. A top priority for Nagin, in addition to the shower, was that his head be shaved properly, possibly for his photo op with President Bush.
But, like a teenager, Nagin just wouldn’t get out of the bathroom. Aides rapped on the door, telling the mayor, “You’ve got five minutes and then the president gets here.” They knocked again. But, still, Nagin dallied.
Finally, the security service had had enough. One agent kicked the door and told Nagin to get out; the president had arrived and didn’t have time to waste on vanity.
“Damn,” Nagin said, as he walked out into the aisle, so Forman would recall.
“I wasn’t ready to get out of the shower! I was shaving my head and I was showering and, God, there was warm and hot water!” When asked later what he most remembered about Air Force One, Nagin would say, “Well, you know for me it was a relief from everything I had been doing. I got a chance to take a shower. It was kind of nice.”