I’m proud to be a native of the state that produced Speaker of the House Dennis “Hurricane” Hastert. At last, a common-sense politician brave enough to speak his mind. As all around him wring their hands over the catastrophe in New Orleans, Hastert alone is clearsighted enough to see beyond the suffering and try to chart a sensible course for tomorrow. “It doesn’t make sense” to spend federal money to help rebuild the city, he said. And: “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.” Sometimes that’s the toughest thing: having the courage to move on.
Hastert noted that federal money is spent on rebuilding other disaster-prone locales sometimes: “But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild, too. Stubbornness.” (I like the fissures part; he must have seen that in “Superman”).
There’s a cost, of course, to such plain-spokenness. People who’ve lost their city react emotionally to your ideas. The principled thing to do amid the wounded yowls is plow straight ahead and enlighten the folks about the careful reasoning behind your blunt honesty. You might say something like this — or at least Hurricane Hastert did:
“ I am not advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated. My comments about rebuilding the city were intended to reflect my sincere concern with how the city is rebuilt to ensure the future protection of its citizens and not to suggest that this great and historic city should not be rebuilt.”
Truly: A profile in courage.