September 12, 2005


The Category 5 General: There's a Big Job to Be Done in New Orleans. Russel Honore Measures Up. (Lynne Duke, September 12, 2005, Washington Post)

There's the swagger, and that ever-present stogie. There's the height and heft of his physique. And that barking voice with its font of perhaps impolitic obscenities ("That's b.s," he famously asserted on national TV), not to mention his penchant for not suffering fools, as is the prerogative of a three-star general.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, 57, is the kind of commander you don't mess with, you don't cross, who punctuates pronouncements with barked questions like "Everybody got that?" And he's so steeped in military culture that he ends his televised sound bites as if ending an army radio transmission: "Over."

But it's for something far less idiosyncratic, far more visceral, that the troops on the battered streets of New Orleans hold him in high regard: He's a soldier's soldier, the man you want in the trenches with you, the kind of man who'll cover your back.

As he strides through a command center set up outside the shuttered and storm-battered Harrah's casino here on Saturday, that is why the troops want to shake his hand, look him in the eye and thank him even as he thanks them for their work.

He's wrapped his big mitts around the hand of Spec. Amy Firestone, a member of the quick reaction force from the 1345th Transportation Company of the Oklahoma National Guard. She served in the dreaded Superdome, packed with evacuees and mayhem.

"Did you see any murders?" the general asks her sympathetically.

"I seen some stabbings, sir," she confides, her voice dripping with regret over what she witnessed.

He pats her on the shoulder, saying, "Thank you for being a good soldier," and palms a 1st Army medallion into her hand as a keepsake as he moves on to the crowd of troops and cops who have gravitated to him.

Mayor Ray Nagin called Honore (pronounced ah-NOR-ay) "one John Wayne dude" when the general arrived here after the storm and started taking charge. It seemed the city had spiraled out of anyone's control when the 6-foot-2 general with the pencil mustache and caramel skin appeared from obscurity and threw his weight against the mayhem. [...]

He has spoken to the media so often that he has honed his message, his preferred lines (which his aides say he devised himself). He repeatedly says, as he did in an appearance with Allen, that "the storm turned back technology 80 years" in the region by knocking out all communication systems and that the region's first responders were themselves victims.

And, fending off early criticism of the federal government's response to the crisis, he says, "It's like the first quarter of a football game. You're losing 25 to nothing. What in the hell is the coach gonna do?

"You can beat [the players] up and tell them how stupid and dumb they are and degrade them," he continues, or you can take a new tact, find new approaches and remember "there's still three quarters of the game left."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 12, 2005 12:00 AM

He chain smokes cigars, making him no better than a beastialist. Perhaps if we all complain loud enough we can get this morally depraved man replaced by someone more virtuous.

Posted by: carter at September 12, 2005 1:44 PM


The more bestial your military the better.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2005 1:47 PM

OJ: I think Carter meant to enable the HTML sarcasam tags on that comment.

That said, you're still right on general principles. The purpose of a military is to break things and hurt people in defense of the nation and of innocent life.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 12, 2005 1:49 PM

Why? Chain-smoking is immoral.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2005 2:07 PM

Eventually this neo-Patton will say something that, like the original Patton, will get him in hot water with the media.

Posted by: Gideon at September 12, 2005 2:26 PM

Is the General going to be a new addition to your prison manlove list?

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 12, 2005 2:47 PM


If it's love you're gay.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2005 3:41 PM

Well, I wasn't going to use the word "bitch."

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 12, 2005 4:46 PM

Retraining your straightness requires that they be making you their bitch, rather than you falling in love with them. But, yes, I'd not be ashamed if he made me his bitch.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2005 4:52 PM