Even if Louisiana’s Democratic senator, Mary Landrieu, ultimately loses her re-election bid, one would hope that some principled forthrightness on her part, relative to the 2014 campaign — standing firm on reiterating a well established socio-political reality about the South — would be an enduring source of pride for the senator. Especially given the hypocritical posturing by her opponents in audaciously attacking her for daring to be honest. Landrieu’s response, when asked during an NBC-TV interview, about the reason for President Obama’s not being popular in Louisiana, was dead-on straight. Beyond mention of economic policies the president has adopted that are inimical to the state’s economic well-being (such as the moratorium on offshore drilling in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill), Landrieu wasn’t about to sidestep the social dynamic at the root of her state’s (and the South’s) anti-Obama sentiment.
“The South has not always been the friendliest place for African Americans,” Landrieu said. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.” Amplifying the comment in a subsequent statement, when the hounds on the other side began voraciously pouncing on such a serving of red meat, Landrieu repeated her assertion about African Americans’ difficulties in the South, mentioning also barriers to women’s acceptance as leaders, and declared: “Everyone knows this is the truth, and I will continue to speak the truth, even as some would twist my words, seeking political advantage.”
Among those getting on Landrieu’s case was Louisiana governor and national-stage upstart Bobby Jindal. Feigning righteous indignation about Landrieu’s remarks, Jindal spewed some horse manure about “red, white and blue” being the only colors that matter to them in the state – a swipe at Landrieu for the alleged disparagement of African Americans in her comment. Clearly turning on the bluster for lights and cameras, Jindal’s display was annoyingly transparent in its sole aim of scoring cheap political points, as Landrieu noted.
We hear all the time that when politician types make these outrageous remarks, they are all base-targeted – intended for home consumption in the hope that the requisite amount of anger could be induced. But unless the base comprises all retards, what’s the point of using as a vehicle for enraging the faithful something they already accept as a fact of everyday life as they know it? The only persons likely to be put off or disappointed by the comment that the South hasn’t been the friendliest place for African Americans are those non-blacks, whatever their number, who may sincerely wish for when those vestiges of inequality are no more. As for the right-side base, get them foaming at the mouth with denunciatory talk about “Obamacare” or immigration, or with fearmonger spiels about how electing a Democrat would mean sky-high taxes. But getting a rise out of right-leaning Louisiana folk over someone acknowledging a given about persons of color in the society? We think not. Jindal’s hyperbole about Landrieu owing the people of the state an apology was all suds and no substance.
There is, of course, the possibility that the governor’s beef was really about Landrieu having the temerity to reaffirm publicly that persons of color have historically had their share of challenges in the state. That’s the action of an enemy of the state, Jindal would have you believe.
Jindal, with those presidential fantasies of his that we recently looked into here, could dwell, if he chooses to, in some alternate universe, pretending that Landrieu’s comment was flammable stuff. He could pretend that when LBJ did his masterful cajoling of key Southern lawmaker votes to get Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation passed in 1964 and ’65, and admitted to himself and others he knew it would signal the end of Democratic Party support among Southern whites – Jindal could continue pretending, if that’s where his head is, that none of this is now relevant. Not the eruption of angry pushback in the summer of 2009 against the unimaginable reality of a non-white occupant of the White House. Not the rash of aggressive assaults now underway on gains earlier made toward leveling the playing field, including in the very same voting rights struggle.
The whole lot of those masquerading clowns, Jindal included, who pilloried Landrieu for her honest, factual recounting of the race issue in her state’s political history need to themselves face the people’s wrath in the public square. Landrieu, with her admirable commitment to telling like it is even such discomforting truth, could only hope that it’s not too far off before Jindal’s bilge about color blindness in her state becomes real.