Kathleen Babineaux Blanco,
the Democratic Governor of Louisiana who announced she will not run for reelection this November, states she should have switched parties after Hurricane Katrina. And yes, she is serious. Read the following:
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who dropped out of the governor’s race Tuesday amid widespread dissatisfaction with her job performance, told a group of Louisiana newspapers today her biggest failure was not switching to the Republican Party after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the state.
“When I look back at the storms, if I had had the knowledge that I would be treated as a pariah by the national Republicans in office, I would have joined the Republican Party to save my state,” Blanco said in an interview with a reporter for Gannett newspapers around the state, including The Times in Shreveport.
“Then I would have been hugged and kissed and lifted, and I would have been declared the best governor in this whole country,” Blanco said. “I wish I had realized that earlier. I think that was the fatal error.”
No, she would not have switched parties as a result of vaguely defined Southern values or of callous fiscal principles Republicans refer to as conservative. And no, she certainly will not allow the Bush administration to continue to besmirch her reputation more than they and their operatives already have. Instead, she has made three statements at once in this subtle jab to the state and national Republican Party: those who switched to the Republican Party after 2000, particularly Rodney Alexander of LA-05, did so only to curry favor with an administration they feared; Bobby Jindal, Republican representative of LA-01 who is also running for Governor this year, will have a successful first year if he wins the gubernatorial race as a result of his party identification and not his skill; and Haley Barbour, Republican Governor of Mississippi, was overfacilitated in the wake of Katrina as a result of his relationship to Bush and the national GOP.
And Blanco has also alerted those of us who believe Bush framed her and the state for political purposes that we are right in our assessment. It was not Blanco who erred; it was Bush who failed Louisiana. Why else would she claim her unwillingness to switch political parties was the fatal error, the only fatal error, she made in the wake of Katrina?
Blanco’s treatment by national Republicans is one of those unwritten stories I look forward to reading. I did witness House hearings on Katrina recovery wherein Texas and Kentucky Republicans ridiculed and invalidated her. And yes, my level of exasperation rose through the roof of my home when I saw these idle, supercilious men vacuously goad my Governor as she tried to explain how she effectively evacuated 80% of the New Orleans Metropolitan area while doing everything within her power to mobilize federal resources.
But more upsetting were the antics undertaken by Republican US Senator David Vitter, who in the midst of the devestation and of the recovery effort claimed he would sign a recall petition against Blanco. And he has the gaul to grace us with this response to Blanco’s announcement that she will not seek reelection:
“This certainly doesn’t change my strong support for Bobby Jindal for governor that I announced some time ago. I’m excited about Bobby because of the positive change he’s for, not who he’s running against. I really think he’s the conservative reformer we need in Baton Rouge.”
So much for tact, and so much for civility. But these were characteristics David Vitter always lacked. After all, this a man who could only offer the following when asked about the city of Lafayette’s role in the recovery effort in the wake of the storms:
Vitter said Lafayette has become a new crossroads for the state, referring to Lafayette’s role as a shelter for refugees from southeast and southwest Louisiana, as well as a staging ground for relief efforts.
“Unfortunately, it’s the crossroads where Katrina meets Rita,” he said. “I always knew I was against same-sex unions.”
Yes, Sen. David Vitter is one to engage in monomania. For according to him, no issue was more important in 06 June 2006, when Louisiana was still trying to recover from Rita and Katrina, than “gay marriage,” which was then debated on the Senate floor. I quote: “I don’t believe there’s any issue that’s more important than this one.” Just remember that this is the man who complicated the recovery of our state and our municipalities by refusing them the option of loan forgiveness for FEMA community disaster loans. And notice that Blanco is the one who has to take the blame for Vitter’s monomaniacal obssession with homosexuality and not with the people of Louisiana.
Blanco will return at some point. She will be that teratological specter that haunts the Republican matrix with the truth of what happened in the wake of Katrina. But first she must finish a legislative session and her term as Governor. Let us wish Blanco the best, and let us hope David Vitter will receive his just desserts in 2010. We hope to see you again, Governor Blanco. And thank you for not betraying our state by switching to the replacement party, however tempting the political, emotional and financial blackmail may have been. We thank you for your integrity and for your honesty. But more importantly, we thank you for being true to Louisiana.