The good news is that CNN seems to have finally stop obsessing over John Mark Karr. Instead, they've found a new soap opera to go ga-ga over, Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella, who drove his FEMA trailer from his home in ravaged St. Bernard Parish to Washington with "the hope" of convincing President Bush to meet with him.
It was exactly one year ago that the headlines were all about Bush, on another lengthy vacation in Crawford, refusing to meet with an average American who was devastated by a tragedy -- Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq. It was a publicity bloodbath, and it rolled right into the horrors of Katrina and a seemingly indifferent White House, beginning the long slide in Bush's approval rating.
Now comes Rockey, a plain-talking character who lost it all in Katrina, who nearly died in the hurricane, forced to hang onto a rope for four hours (some of that was captured on film), and now wants to government to do more for Katrina victims. And what a difference a year makes -- not only did Bush, not in Crawford but hard at work in the White House, meet with this "average American," but check out the glowing praise our president received in return [...]
In fact, we had a hunch -- that maybe, just maybe, Rockey Vaccarella had a background himself in GOP politics.
And, whaddya know? Turns out that the earthy Vaccarella -- a highly successful businessman in the fast-food industry -- is indeed a Republican pol, having run unsuccessfully under the GOP banner for a seat on the St. Bernard Parish commission back in 1999. We don't have a good link, but here (via Nexis) is part of his bio that ran in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Oct. 15, 1999:
35. Born in New Orleans. Grew up in Arabi and Chalmette. Lived 11 years in
Married, two children.
Graduated from Chalmette High, 1982. Attended St. Bernard Community
Director of operations, Lundy Enterprises, as manager of 31 Pizza Hut
restaurants and 450 employees. Former general restaurant manager of Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits on East Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette.
And in fact, Vaccarella seemed very confident that he would be meeting with Bush when he left home, to the point where he had a date scheduled and everything:
Dinner with the President is planned for the evening of August 22nd.
Gotta hand it to ol' Rockey, Rove, and the rest of the White House propaganda machine. CNN fell for the gambit line, hook and sinker.