New Orleans Is Not a Partisan Issue. Really.

New Orleanians want to know why the Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the city's bid to hold a debate. As Harry and the TP note, the commission's official explanations make no sense. And members are not eager to explain themselves further. Other than to assure us all that politics played no role.

The fact is, thanks to Brownie and the rest, New Orleans is an enormous embarrassment to the Republican Party. Holding a debate there -- at the Convention Center! -- would automatically put the Republican nominee on the defensive. That prospect clearly gave the vapors to the establishmentarians on the debate commission.

Well, the Republican Party should be embarrassed. Sorry about that. New Orleans was, and remains, the site of an epochal, multi-faceted domestic policy debacle with implications for the rest of the country, one that occurred on a GOP watch. The tenuousness of the city's recovery owes a lot to the President Bush's absentee leadership and the hand-washing, devolutionary approach of his White House.

Whether it's personal or political, the solution to an embarrassment is not to sweep it under the rug. Perhaps this will sound naïve, but New Orleans should not be -- and at bottom, is not -- a partisan issue. Its problems transcend party labels, whoever is president will have to take up this challenge. The Republican candidates aren't Bush. Each ought to be able to stride into the Convention Center with some answers for New Orleans, and America. A GOP nominee who did that would win points for vision. The fact that our political system can't process this is a sign of more problems to come.