2005-09-22 / View From the Middle

Some Close Their Eyes To Administration’s Shortcomings View From The Middle

By Charles Rogers

For awhile there, even the New York Post was having trouble trying to excuse President Bush from blame for letting the ball drop on the Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans disaster debacle. It was actually ludicrous to see how even that ultra-right-winger glossed over just about everything that had to do with the Southern Coast, from Biloxi to Big Easy, when it came to who was responsible. But when it came to highlighting the efforts that finally did go into place, they were right up there with the headlines, over-willing to home in on the rebuilding and refurbishing and rehabilitation and redoing, as opposed to featuring the failures in the administration.

In fact, it couldn’t go unnoticed that, the day after his contrition speech, which, incidentally, came di-rectly from Jackson Square in the heart of New Orleans, the Post didn’t even mention Bush’s mea culpa.

The Post, as other normally-conservative daily newspapers, has for too long practically given this Republican administration carte blanche from front to back page. Many times — probably too many — I’ve agreed fully with their editorial opinions and op-eds, including the involvement in Iraq (We’re there now...and we can’t pull out. And you know it!). But patriot (or not) that I am, I cannot go along with the principle that says “My country, right or wrong” in this case.

As we all know by now, and as the president has admitted, local, state and federal governments were all wrong to have waited so long to make a move. It will be discussed ad infinitum, even after a Con-gressional commission’s hearing with a blue ribbon panel — hopefully not chosen by the president — is put into place and we find out why or how it all happened. Let’s just hope that the commission’s investigation is open to the public. I can’t see any reason why it would not be, and if the media is in any way blocked from recording every second of the hearings, there should be such an outcry that it will be heard from here to the ears of every citizen who feels our constitution is worth the paper it is written on.

And while we’re talking about those stalwart journalists who would be the carriers of good and bad messages to good and bad people, we must talk about the credit to be given to the media in general for their coverage of the Katrina disaster — coverage that continues even now. There have been few occasions where the media has shone so brightly; where they — all the broadcast and cable networks, major newspapers and even the individual local TV outlets — have almost literally brought the sights and sounds of an event, in this case a catastrophe, directly into our homes. Full impact. The devastation, and the respective embarrassing handling of it, was told to us as it was happening . A story can’t be told better than that.

By the same token, when the hearings take place (PLEASE let them take place!), remember, everything that happened was chronicled by the media. There will be no place to hide.

The Post will have to run the story truthfully; without leaving anything out.

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Time out to say a few words about Cosmo Marino, who passed away September 15 in his home on Staten Island. He was laid to rest last Monday in the family plot in Canarsie Cemetery, with family members and old friends present. He was 91.

I knew Mr. Marino quite well. He would always ask me to call him Cosmo, but I preferred to attach the “Mr.” in my salutation because no one, with the exception, perhaps, of my father, more deserved the respect of that title.

The one short story I might relate was that, shortly before he left Canarsie a few years ago to live in New Jersey and then Staten Island, he stopped off at my office and handed me a gift of three small bottles of wine. “This is just a little something

from friend to friend,” he said, in a gesture that truly touched me, for there was never anyone more sincere than Cosmo Marino.

I shall go now and drink from one of those three bottles as a toast to my friend. I’m sure he will indeed rest in peace.

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