Stolen Honore

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honore.jpg

Greg Pollowitz swoons over Lt. General Russell Honore, the Katrina hero and possible gubernatorial candidate, linking to the best newspaper in America with the worst web design:

When Katrina made landfall, the veteran soldier—who once commanded troops in Korea and prepares troops to deal with explosives in Iraq—approached the storm as he would a cunning enemy that cut supply lines and communications with one fell swoop.

Honore soon became an icon of leadership, a walking caricature of a take-charge soldier whose growling one-liners and commanding presence didn't just compel his soldiers into action, but civilians as well.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who blasted the Bush administration's response to his city's disaster, offered the president rare praise for sending "one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done." Former FEMA Director Michael Brown called him a "bull in the China closet, God love him."

Here I have to break with my superiors and comment: Ohhhhhh, well if Ray Nagin thinks he's competent!

Maybe I'm being reflexively contrarian, but Honore's inflated image never sat right with me; he arrived in New Orleans at just the right time, like the hero no one thought was coming in a direct-to-video Eric Roberts movie (is there any other kind?). The media had reported on government officials' failures for 72 hours, and casting was open for a heroic figure who could sweep away all of their mistakes. In came Honore, who 1)was tall, 2)wore a beret, and 3)cursed at people. This year-old Washington Post profile is a good example of Honore Chic—nothing Lynne Duke sees is extraordinary in the rescue effort that was finally running smoothly, but Honore is big and he has a cigar and he ends sentences in cable news interviews by saying "over."

None of this precludes Honore doing an effective job with his part of the rescue effort. Still, what's with the need to fetishize and create icons out of military men? Why immediately assume he'd make a good Republican candidate for governor? There's an undercurrent of "big, strong men will solve our problems" here that frankly weirds me out.

NEXT: Ditchweed Headache

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  1. David,

    Have you been reading The Wisdom of Crowds again?!

  2. There’s an undercurrent of “big, strong men will solve our problems” here that frankly weirds me out.

    Perhaps there is a need to send an asskicker to get things moving where there is an atmosphere of government corruption, rent-seeking and favoritism, such as NOLA, that is delaying things getting done.

    The good thing about America is when that part of the job is done, the asskicker goes away.

  3. best newspaper in America with the worst web design:

    Im gonna assume u put that line in there to covertly let us know that the squirrels have finnaly left the server and are presently holding you hostage. God help us if they read this.

  4. I got a similar feeling about Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11, who seemed to get tremendous admiration for not publicly breaking down like a little girl when the shit hit the fan.

  5. Perhaps there is a need to send an asskicker to get things moving where there is an atmosphere of government corruption, rent-seeking and favoritism, such as NOLA, that is delaying things getting done.

    Yeah, Ahnold worked out so well in CA…

  6. The good thing about America is when that part of the job is done, the asskicker goes away.

    That’s the problem with the Honore worship. Pollowitz et al don’t want him to go away – they want him to march right into the governor’s office and start barking orders.

  7. “Still, what’s with the need to fetishize and create icons out of military men?”

    I think we, as a culture if not as a species, have a need to fetishize and create icons out of people in general, and men in particular. This particular man just happens to be in the military.

    Be forthright, Mr. Weigel. What do you have against the military?

  8. I think that either party would want someone who presents a take-charge atitude and competence. Military personnel in action generally present both those traits and some people like that, though not if they are the ones getting barked at. Probably the best thing Gen. Honore did was to keep a bunch of ineffectual people out of the way of the hundreds of competent people who were already doing the grunt work of rescue operations.

    Why do you have a problem with the idea that “big strong men will solve our problems”? THere are times when action-by-committee is the best course, and other times when one person needs to be in charge to get something done. I can’t understand why it weirds you out.

    Fear not, in any case, the military still falls under civilian control, and rightfully so. NO military coups are on the horizon in NOLA, though I am sure the governor is wooried about the next election. Wasn’t Ray Nagin reelected, though?

  9. Probably the best thing Gen. Honore did was to keep a bunch of ineffectual people out of the way of the hundreds of competent people who were already doing the grunt work of rescue operations.

    Good point.

  10. The one image I have of Honor? is him berating subordinate officers for pointing their rifles at civilian passersby. That act alone is worth something in my book.

  11. Last post on a dead thread!

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