Three weeks ago, The Independent Weekly published our open letter to Gov. Kathleen Blanco urging her not to run for re-election. With endless dissections of her post-Katrina performance and the massive failures of the Road Home program virtually guaranteeing she would not be re-elected, Independent editor Scott Jordan respectfully asked her to consider the overall benefits to Louisiana if she dropped out of the race. "If you drop out of the race now, you will encourage a new slate of challengers to enter the race and present Louisiana voters with their platform for moving the state forward," he wrote. "More than anything, that is what Louisiana needs right now. We need every voice, every option and every idea on the table."
Perhaps inspired by The Independent's "Don't Run" letter to Blanco, The Daily Advertiser published an editorial last week titled "Breaux Should Not Run for Governor."
Take it away, Daily Advertiser:
"Asking Breaux not to run is a significant request, but he proved during his tenure as a U.S. Senator that he could set aside partisan politics for the good of the state and the nation. His legacy is his ability to build bridges and help rival sides reach consensus."
The Advertiser praises Breaux's bi-partisan record and reputation and then asks him not to run. Why, you ask? "Imagine how heated, nasty and distracting the fight will get if Breaux runs," the daily paper says. "Leaders of the state's two major parties lack the self-discipline to focus on recovery if Breaux runs against the already-declared U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal," The Advertiser opines. "They will focus on personal attacks, not public needs."
Ironically, the Louisiana GOP apparently agreed, as it immediately sent out The Advertiser's complete editorial as a press release.
The Advertiser implies that if Breaux stays out of the race, the Louisiana Republican and Democratic parties will suddenly be bathed in a collective ray of mutual respect, love and sunshine all the way through until Election Day. There will be no questioning of the opposition's record; no negative campaigning. As long as John Breaux's not around, Republican and Democratic leaders will be able to control their destructive urges and focus on the state's recovery.
If you believe that, FEMA's always looking for a good spokesman.
Exactly how our Republican and Democratic leaders would suddenly zero in on recovery efforts such as coastal restoration and an overhauled health care system without Breaux in the race is a mystery. The Advertiser says it welcomes "debate on those issues, as well as how to spend, invest, save and refund to taxpayers the state's surplus revenues. That question should not be resolved by a lame-duck governor and a legislative session filled with politicians jockeying for their own re-election or figuring how to dodge a term limit by moving from House to Senate."
So apparently The Advertiser recommends that Gov. Blanco and the Legislature should have some healthy debate but otherwise take off the next eight months until the next governor takes office.
If this all sounds confusing and illogical, don't fret ' you're not alone. Judging from a follow-up editorial it published three days later, even The Advertiser had second thoughts about its judgment on Blanco and the Legislature. "There is time left in her term for some good things to be done, and there are some good things on the Blanco agenda," wrote the paper. "In the months remaining, the governor may be able to implement needed legislation in such areas as education, the infrastructure, the economy and the quality of life of Louisiana's citizens. There could be a happy ending to her troubled tenure."
But The Advertiser digresses; its Blanco flip-flopping has nothing to do with John Breaux running for governor.
Elections are about residents casting votes and letting their voice be heard. Before Breaux's name could even go on a ballot in Louisiana, there are serious hurdles in his quest to be governor. First and foremost, there are legal questions to be answered about his residency status. Those are for our legal system to decide. And even if Crowley native Breaux's residency issue is resolved and he does run for governor, he currently trails Jindal by 30 points in the latest poll conducted by Southern Media & Opinion Research. (That's a wider margin than Jindal's 24-point lead over Blanco.)
As a barometer of how bizarre The Advertiser's Breaux screed is, consider the editorial "Opportunities Abound in '07" from The Monroe News-Star ' keeping in mind that Monroe is a conservative town which history suggests would strongly prefer a Republican governor. "Louisianans must not fear a contentious gubernatorial campaign: Competing political plans and competing campaign visions ought to collide in the Public Square," wrote the News-Star. "It's not always pretty when ideas compete, but political competition provides voters pause to reflect, to study and to question the state of their state. That's what citizenship is all about."
The paper concluded, "With no incumbent in the autumn race, this year's election can be less about pointing fingers and more about choosing paths."
We wholeheartedly agree.
Which brings us to back to the ultimate question: Given the media's long and cherished history of encouraging multiple points of view and the political process, why would The Daily Advertiser write an editorial asking John Breaux not to run? There are only two possible answers: its editors and publisher are either stunningly naive ' or transparently partisan. In both cases, with the most important governor's election in the history of Louisiana approaching, neither answer is comforting or acceptable.