Thursday, October 20, 2005

Perception is still reality

All this righteous indignation about Idaho Senator Larry Craig's negative opinion of Louisiana government and politics misses the point: Perception is still reality. Senator Craig stated his opinion bluntly and it hurt Louisiana's feelings. But let's be honest: Senator Craig probably isn't the only lawmaker in Washington with a dim view of Louisiana's ability to handle this fiscal and social crisis. The senator's evaluation of Louisiana politics and leadership is a reality that this state and its leadership need to address head-on in order to bring order to the chaos the hurricanes revealed. This doesn't mean attacking Senator Craig. It means having the political courage to address the underlying issues that still allow Louisiana to be branded America's lone banana republic. The longer Louisiana tries to portray itself as "victim" in the post-hurricane world, the longer it will take for the state recover. Victims beg for $250 billion in federal monies to rebuild the state. Survivors call for tax incentives and a long-overdue re-ordering of state budget priorities. The hurricanes didn't create the state's reputation for corruption and ineffective government. But the hurricanes did expose state leadership's rhetoric about a "new day in Louisiana" for what it's long been suspected of being: Wishful thinking.