Why Won’t Senator Mary Landrieu Lose with Pride and Dignity?

 

Senator Mary Landrieu at Tailgate Party before LSU Game
Senator Mary Landrieu at LSU Game

New Orleans       The last race of the USA’s mid-term elections is winding to a close in Louisiana.  Mary Landrieu has been a US Senator for three terms totaling 18 years.  We have a sign for her in our front yard as do several of our neighbors.  Sometime during Thanksgiving week, I will go vote for her, as I have in all of her previous elections, on an absentee ballot because I’ll be working in Birmingham, England on Election Day.  When I push the button to seal the vote into the machine, I’ll walk away with a heavy step, not because I know she’s losing, but because I will be embarrassed by my vote and by my Senator.

There’s really no doubt that she will lose.  In the primary, she led by a hair with 42% and her two Republican opponents, one more rightwing than the other, polled 58%.  She’s toast.  There’s no way she doesn’t know it.

Flip a few pages of the newspaper any day from the front pages with politics, war, and whatnot past the metro pages with traffic, killings, and you will end up on the sports pages where most of the stories revolve around winning and losing.  There is a world of advice on how to win, but for regular readers there are also always lessons taught and lessons to be learned about losing and how to do so with some grace, some pride, and some dignity.  The coach from the University of Florida was fired, and rather than blaming anyone, refreshingly thanked everyone for the opportunity and said simply, “we just didn’t win enough games.”   The seasons inevitably end for all athletes no matter how great and the celebration for leaving well, like a Mariano Rivera or a Derek Jeter, rather than limping out or cashing one last check are as heralded and legendary as these athletic icons themselves.

I sure wish Mary Landrieu read the sports pages.

Over the last week in a humiliating move, she went to Washington to join with the Republicans to force a vote on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline even knowing that it would be vetoed and probably suspecting how awful the consequences of the line might be.  Not surprisingly she lost in the Senate by one vote, displaying not only her bad judgment, but her powerlessness.  Meanwhile her opponent in Congress put forward a similar bill that passed the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.  Was Senator Landrieu trying to win a Louisiana-election or lobbying for a job with the oil, gas, and energy companies that have pretty much owned her for the last 18 years anyway?  Regardless, it was sad and pathetic to watch.

In today’s paper, she professed to disagree with the President on his executive order on immigration.  A moment ago one of my neighbors a well-known businessman in the city stopped walking his dog when he saw me, nodded at our “Vote for Mary” sign, which he also displays at his place, and said, “Why is she just running her campaign for white Republicans?”  Good question!  He claimed to have written the campaign and told the Senator that since she was losing why didn’t she go out swinging, invite President Obama down to hit the trail with her in Shreveport, Lake Charles, and Baton Rouge?  He didn’t get a reply.

At the end of her career as an elected official, Senator Landrieu, like many politicians, seems to have learned little about character, loyalty, convictions, and other things like that from the process.  One of the highlights of her campaign had been her ability to hang with the tailgaters in front of LSU Tiger Stadium to the horror of her opponent, proving that she was still a Louisiana-girl deep down, not a Washington DC piece of statuary.  I wish she had actually learned more about what happens on the field inside the stadium, where despite the fact that winning is often claimed to be everything, the best coaches and the best players, also teach life lessons worth learning about the fact that no matter how much winning may matter, losing is also a fundamental part of the game, and losing with pride and dignity is essential to the process.

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Keystone XL Pipeline Jamming Up Arkansas and Louisiana Politics

0309-keystone-Oil-Pipeline_full_600New Orleans   If you look at a map of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline designed to move heavy, tar sands oil from the Alberta, Canada to refineries and shipping around Port Arthur and Houston, Texas, it doesn’t run through either Arkansas or Louisiana soil, yet somehow the pipeline is already running through the heart of politics in both places, confounding people near and far.

            Louisiana’s senior senator, Mary Landrieu, with a predictably close election is stirring the pot the hardest.  As the new chair of the Senate’s committee overseeing oil and gas, she is desperately trying to divide and conquer business interests using her close ties in the resource industries that fuel Louisiana to fill her campaign coffers and even publicly line up for her reelection.  Joining with Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, who despite last year’s Mayflower spill disaster near Little Rock, is one of five Democratic senators imperiled in the coming election listed as cosponsors, she was able to convince Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, despite his stated opposition to the pipeline, to allow it to go to the Senate for a vote if she could muster the numbers.  The legality of Congress usurping the role of the executive branch and the State Department’s management of this bi-national situation is questionable, though conservatives maintain that it is arguable, and the White House seems to be maintaining some reserve given how doubtful they are that she can muster the votes.  Meanwhile Louisiana’s other senator, Republican David Vitter, has thrown a monkey wrench in the deal as well by once again trying to attach his messy Affordable Care Act amendment requiring all of the Congress to go to the marketplace for insurance, which has been a nonstarter on both sides of the aisle and of course another flashpoint for the Obama Administration.

            Given that the Administration has already punted on the pipeline until after the mid-terms, arguing that litigation in Nebraska had to be settled, the speedup on a vote now is even crazier, since Landrieu’s bill is an “if and when” statue contingent on the Nebraska court decision.  I’m frequently asked, what the heck is really going on?

            My theory is that since the Koch brothers are the big winners to the tune of billions given their more than one million acres of land holdings in Alberta, that Landrieu is trying to use her buddies in the industry to send a message that they need to close down their anti-Landrieu campaign advertising which to date has run hundreds of TV and radio ads already blasting Landrieu’s vote on Obamacare.  Even neutralizing the Koch’s would dramatically improve Landrieu’s prospects.  Though all experts predict a close race, at this point her support is twice that of her Congressional opponent and her direct campaign bankroll, not counting the Koch’s independent expenditures, dwarfs her opponent.  If she were able to squeeze them out, my bet – and no doubt her own — is that she ekes out another win.

            National and global environmental catastrophe be damned, despite all of the current controversies in both Arkansas and Louisiana over oil spills, oil exploration triggered coastal erosion, and one calamity after another, Landrieu with help from Pryor and others, is proving once again that all politics are local.

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