Waiting for the Kingfish in New Orleans

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ONLINE New Orleans recently had a case of nostalgie de la Huey. On BayouBuzz.com, a political discussion site, a participant wrote wistfully about leaders of yesteryear. "I believe we could use another person of Huey Long's caliber to step in," went the note.

The object of the writer's longing, of course, was Huey P. Long, the Kingfish, the Depression-era governor and United States senator who dominated the state before his assassination in September 1935.

It's the sort of sentiment that Stephen M. Sabludowsky, the founder of BayouBuzz, says he hears plenty of these days: paeans to Long, and even to disgraced politicians like former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who is serving a 10-year prison term for a conviction on corruption charges related to the licensing of casinos during his tenure.

"New Orleans is so fractured and fragmented," Mr. Sabludowsky said with bloggish hyperbole, that Hitler, "if he could make the trains run on time," might do well in the April 22 mayoral election.

Despite scattered signs of progress, New Orleans still seems mired in its destroyed neighborhoods and political squabbling. It is a place where no decision is so small that it cannot be second-guessed, and one of the most common complaints — after gripes about FEMA — is the dearth of leadership.

"You need some leadership," said State Representative Emile (Peppi) Bruneau, a Republican from New Orleans whose home and legislative office were heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. "We have none right now at either the state or the local level in her excellency, the governor, or his excellency, the mayor, in my opinion."

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