Yesterday, John continued to provide us with coverage of the California Wildfires. He appeared on The Situation Room but apparently there were some technical difficulties while he was on air.
Later on in the evening, he filed a report on AC360 after having interviewed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. There has been much positive response and praise for the Governor’s handling of the situation. John drew some comparisons between the public’s attitude towards Louisiana officials over two years ago and the current attitude in California:
“Anderson, you remember those days just after Katrina, when the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana were in so much political hot water, heckled and hassled when they went out in public.Not Arnold Schwarzenegger. Walk into an evacuation center with him, there is a standing ovation. People want his autograph. They want to take his picture. Spend a day with the governor, and what you see is a bit of celebrity crisis management.”
John had an opportunity to sit down with Gov. Schwarzenegger and ask a few questions.
Here is an excerpt which aired on AC360 last night.
KING: Tell me the personal lessons you learned, both from a style standpoint and a substance standpoint, about being a leader, from watching the debacle of Katrina.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think the most important thing is, don’t sit around in your office and try to make decisions out of the office. You have got to be with the people. It’s the most important thing. You have got to go out there and you’ve got to visit all the fire sites. You’ve got to shake hands with the firefighters, you’ve got to encourage them, you have got to pump them up, you’ve got to tell them they’re the greatest in the world. You’ve got to work with the local communities, with the elected officials and with others. You have to work with the Red Cross. You have to work with the private sector. You have to call the Grocers Association to make sure they deliver food right away to all of those various different places, you know, where people stay overnight. So I think that being out there with the people is the key thing.
KING: One of the criticisms or questions in the days after has been, some think it took too long to get California Air National Guard assets up in the air to douse the fires. Some had said it was the winds, other weather conditions. Others have said the state was slow to answer the phone or to issue the orders. What was it?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think it is very clear that we had a big disadvantage because of the winds. You know, we had 90 aircraft here in California. We had six additional aircraft from the federal government that can drop a huge load of water and chemicals and others. But we could not use some of those equipments and some of those aircrafts because of the wind conditions.
This morning, the headline at CNN.com is “Fire crews gaining upper hand as winds calm” This is at least some good news amidst all the difficult challenges the firefighters and other rescue officials are facing at the moment.
This picture was at the CNN.com homepage, which I found to be a particfularly appropriate image. It is a stark reminder of our duty to be appreciative of all the rescue personnel who are braving the harsh elements to protect American citizens and their properties.
I also read that now investigators are pretty certain that a least one of the major wildfires was due to arson. What a shame. If it had been natural causes, I can imagine many people might have somewhat of a different perspective about their losses. But to know that it was deliberately set is terribly sad indeed.
Once all the smoke and embers have died out, we should get a better understanding of what really happened to set off this extraordinary chain of events. In the days and weeks to come, CNN will no doubt provide us with coverage and analysis of the wildfire causes and origins.