Yesterday, former Mayor Ray Nagin was on television promoting his book, Katrina’s Secrets, which was self-published through CreateSpace, as Jon Stewart noticed on The Daily Show. Nagin did this, he said, for fear that his voice would be “toned down.”
“Once you turn a manuscript over to a publisher, you never know what happens,” he said, as if he was being cagey instead of simply nutty.
When asked by Stewart about the book’s portrayal of his contentious relationship with then-Governor Kathleen Blanco, Nagin tried to be wiley and imply that the state’s slow response to Katrina’s flooding was Blanco’s personal act of hostility toward him. “She told me that there would be hell to pay, and I think Katrina qualifies,” he said, and he grinned that self-satisfied grin we all recognize, his “I Just Made a Funny” look.
“Do you think she conjured up the storm?” Stewart asked.
“No, but I think there were some residuals,” he said in a way that we all recognize as his version of conversational poker. He throws out a vague word and waits to see if anyone tries to pin him down on what that means.
When pressed—”Is she that petty an individual?” Stewart asked—he retreated and said, “I don’t think so, but politics played a role in the response.” And we finally got to the less sensational truth, one where he’s neither the victim nor the hero, but one more player in the drama.
Watching Nagin on The Daily Show was like seeing an old girlfriend or boyfriend across the street and wondering what you ever saw in that person. He wasn’t witty enough or smart enough to spar with Stewart, but he didn’t seem to know that. As a result, we didn’t learn much about Katrina, his book or him from the interview, nor did we get many good laughs.
Earlier in the day, on The Today Show, Nagin tried the “residuals” line and it didn’t work any better. The spot went better because he didn’t try to yuck it up with Matt Lauer, but after implying some sort of malevolence on Blanco’s part, he backed up as well. “There were things going on above me that contributed to her hesitancy more than anything else. Republican president, Democratic governor arguing over the Posse Comitatus Act that was passed way back when,” he explained.
Just when you thought that segment was okay—or at least not embarrassing—as it ended, Nagin jammed in a quick plug at the end for CreateSpace and the compulsive huckster resurfaced, as did the feeling of humiliation and shame that we experienced for much of his time in office. He hasn’t been able to resist the urge to show people how clever he is, but he has never been as clever as he thinks he is.
Why the great love for CreateSpace? Where else could he get good advice like “Get your facts straight” and “Look professional before you request a review.” Why publish through CreateSpace? I sincerely hope that he’s worked out the finances and figured out that this is most lucrative way to go, but my instincts say his ego can’t handle a ghost or an editor touching his words.