NOLA Notes: Productive Asshole Theatre

For some reason, New Orleans holds its municipal elections early in the year. I’m pretty sure the timing has a lot to do with our political class wanting us distracted by Carnival and the NFL playoffs. Scratch one off the list but Carnival is LOOOONG this year.

It has been a notably dull early campaign season. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has very high favorability ratings, his opponents aren’t well known and seem to be running campaigns based on insidery disgruntlement with Mitchmo’s style. We’ve gone from Debrisville to Dullsville. Yesterday, something entertaining finally happened. Cheron Brylski is a local political consultant and PR person with longstanding ties to the Landrieus. She runs an political email newsletter thing called the Krewe of Truth. An ironic name given the fact that she’s a flack but irony is still in. I’m on the email list but often do not read it, which is how I missed this remarkable screed until I saw it at the Gambit Tabloid blog:

Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace wrote on Jan. 12 about “…one of Bagneris’ chief complaints about Landrieu, that he can’t work with other politicians and agencies…This, of course, goes to what’s shaping up as a major theme of the election. There’s no question that Landrieu has battled with not only the Obama administration, but with the city’s firefighters over the pension, its judges over the size of the bench and the prospect of a new courthouse, and so on. He’s ticked people off; they’re now going public. The question remains: Do average voters care? And even if they do, which side are they likely to take?”

Translation: Do we care if Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been an asshole sometimes during his first term?

I’m getting a lot of emails and texts and facebook posts about assholes lately, but this slap at the Mayor by those on the other side bothers me because it is irrelevant.

It reminds me ironically of a column written by Clancy Dubos back when Mayor Dutch Morial was running for re-election, and there were tons of complaints about him, but in the end Dubos wrote: “He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole.”

So let me say something about assholes in general, and in politics in particular.

First of all, if you think creative people are all nice and fuzzy, watch the movie Jobs or read the book about the Apple genius. Nearly every visionary I’ve ever met is charming, productive and asshole-ish at the same time.

As it concerns politics, power is never handed over on a silver platter. In the case of New Orleans, after Nagin, our city was on the brink of a complete shutdown. Mitch has had to be an asshole to herd cats? So what! And look, I’ve tangled with him myself on different issues and political strategies, and I’m fully aware he doesn’t like to loose arguments. But…there are assholes and then there are PRODUCTIVE assholes. And in politics, the productive ones are often what you need when you have some place to go and no easy road to get there.

As Dutch Morial used to say…”It’s not that they don’t like me. They don’t like the fact I’ve made a decision.” Exactly. Even when I disagree, I still like the person who takes a stand and has a vision.

A toast to productive assholes…

It’s very interesting and downright hilarious when a candidate’s supporter calls him an asshole be it an effective or productive one. It points out the humongous gap between Landrieu’s public image as a singing, dancing, baby kissing, back slapping pol and his offstage reality as a petulant, short tempered, and vindictive creep. As you can see, I am not a fan.

Mayor Mitch is running an Up with People/Morning in America style campaign instead of running as an effective sumbitch or a productive asshole. Wise choice. I wrote a post about his first campaign ad over at Humid City called One Is The Mitchiest Number. Subsequent ads have featured New Orleanians talking about what a swell guy the Mayor is. I suspect his handlers aren’t too happy with Ms. Brylski’s productive asshole comment. They shouldn’t care since their candidate’s favorables are over 60% and he’ll win in the first round without a breaking a sweat.

An alternate title for this post could have been The Case of the Impolitic Political Consultant but Productive Asshole Theatre is much funnier. The thing is: the asshole is going to win because his opponents are running a campaign based on insider grudges and animosities. We already have enough holidays in New Orleans without celebrating Festivus during campaign season.

Pass the King Cake. That is all.

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