Leslie Turk

Renwick on Jindal, Vitter, Jefferson, Edwards

by Leslie Turk

Retiring political analyst Ed Renwick, respected statewide for his mild manner and ego-free commentary on Louisiana's colorful political landscape, weighed in over the weekend on Jindal, Vitter, Jefferson, Edwards, Blanco and a host of others, as The Times-Picayune looked back on the 70-year-old's career. "The man who is considered the dean of local political analysts is retiring. He will teach one last course at Loyola University; he is turning the school's Institute of Politics over to new hands; and he is appearing only occasionally on WWL-TV," The T-P wrote.

Here's what the respected Renwick had to say (save for theĀ INDsider's editorial commentary in their titles):

On "Booby" Jindal -- "So far, he's been kind of disengaged, which surprises me. That's not the way Louisiana governors usually are. They usually take a very active part. A governor really has to lead in this state. It's very oriented toward the governor being the leader and being out front -- wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, then presenting a policy. So far, he doesn't seem to be doing it that way. But he's hardly ever been an elected public official before -- just a couple of years in Congress. The positions he's held were mostly in the bureaucracy, and a bureaucrat is supposed to do the work and keep his mouth closed."

On "Serious Sin" Vitter -- "I've never been able to comprehend how he could do something so stupid. It defies imagination. The chances of him getting caught were very good. I think he's a pretty good politician. He thinks very politically. He makes the right political moves -- with one great exception."

On "Dollar Bill" Jefferson -- "Here's a person who had a great career going for him, and, if these things are true that are alleged, he just threw it all away. I don't know how he possibly could have thought he'd get away with it forever. It just astounds me."

On "Fast Eddie" -- "The most talented politician of my era here, although he used his talents in some strange ways. Knowing everything about state and local government, knowing all the players and what made them tick, being able to put compromises together -- nobody was better than him. They say he never went to bed at night without having returned all of his phone calls. Many politicians cannot say that. Many nonpoliticians cannot say that. It was one of the secrets of his success. It meant that he spent hours a day on the phone -- every day. But he almost always got what he wanted out of the Legislature -- and almost always out of the voters."

On the "Queen Bee" -- "I think she's a decent, honest person, which is a lot to say of a Louisiana politician. She was in an extremely difficult situation. She never should have gone on national television right after (Hurricane Katrina). Everything was in chaos. I think it hurt her and framed her for the rest of her term. It was a major blunder. As time went on, she did better. But first impressions are extremely important."