New Orleans' heroic mayor, Ray Nagin, was on his way to China and Australia for important economic development discussions when Fate intervened. Now instead of drumming up business from Chinese drywall companies, he is sitting in a suburban Shanghai hotel with his wife and a member of his entourage while his generous hosts screen his phone calls until they're declared swine flu-free.
An AP reporter who was held at the same hotel last month described a Kafkaesque land of nightmares in which the captives are visited twice daily by medical personnel in full hazmat suits, where the only English content on the television is Larry King reruns and discussions about Beijing trash collection, and where the food is as dreadful as it is plentiful.
This is what Mayor Nagin, his wife, and a bodyguard must suffer because on the flight over they were seated near a French passenger who was suspected of having swine flu.
This sort of bad luck could only happen to the comically hapless Mayor Nagin, who is so despised by his own public that a short look at the comments on a Times-Picayune article about his confinement reflects nothing but delight:
- May they keep him for a thousand years.
- Just like when the legislature CLOWNS are not in [Baton Rouge], the city is a MUCH safer place with our sorry excuse for a mayor being out of town, for whatever the reason..... LESS than 10 months and he is no longer our problem !!!!!
- Who would have thought the Chinese would save New Orleans?
- Everybody eat Chinese tonight to honor New Orleans' biggest allies in Shanghai.
- Nagin in China. Maybe we can trade him for some Mardi Gras beads.
The outpouring of support for the beleaguered mayor has been, in a word, underwhelming.
Hopefully he will not have to waste his entire 10-day trip sitting in a dull hotel room watching Larry King hike up his suspenders, so that he can continue on to Australia and eventually get back to the hard work of embarrassing and infuriating his constituents.
The epidemiologist and Mandarin translator Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.