Photo by Matthew Hinton of the Advocate.
Back in my time as a New Orleans neighborhood leader, I helped to organize 3 candidate forums. It was a lot of work but quite rewarding. My former neighbor Linda Walker was a past President of the LWV NOLA chapter so she moderated, once with the help of then Picayune columnist Stephanie Grace. Dr. A was the fascist timekeeper at each event, which is one reason she approves of rigid formats. I’m less of a fan of them myself but what can I say? I’m a wild and crazy guy.
The most interesting forum we were involved in was one for our City Council District in the first post-Katrina/Federal Flood city wide election. It was an interesting group, two of whom have made news since 2006. The combative, mouthy Stacy Head is currently City Council President and the dim Counciltool she ousted, Renee Gill-Pratfall, recently went to prison for her role in a series of elaborate scams perpetrated by the late, unlamented Jefferson machine.
As a result of my past experience as a forum organizer, I’m very interested in the stagecraft of such events. It came in handy with the second debate I’ll be discussing but we begin with the Gret Stet Senate debate, which I live tweeted if you’re bored enough to scroll back on my feed or you can check the hashtag #LaSenateDebate. I am not, however, a hastag activist. I do like hashtag browns with breakfast, had to do something for the pun community…
Here’s my takeaway from the debate: Senator Landrieu was by far and away the most poised candidate. Not a surprise since she’s been running Gret Stetwide since 1987. She did a good job keeping distance between herself and President Obama without repudiating him. I wish La Grimes and Michelle Nunn had taken a leaf from her playbook instead of getting bogged down in the “did you vote for Obama” silliness. Give the MSM media a chance to focus on trivia and they’ll take it every time.
Dr. Bill Cassidy is Willard Mittbot Romney in scrubs. He’s stiff, scripted, and kinda creepy looking. He’s also a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers who looks as if he has a stick permanently wedged up his ass. His only memorable line of the evening was, “Obamacare is a wet blanket over the economy.” Say what, Cassidybot?
Watching Cassidybot, I see why his handlers limited him to two debates. He is so tightly programmed that his closing statement consisted of lines from his teevee commericals. I was disappointed that nobody on the panel asked him whether he’s an android, cylon, or robot. I want my robotic instincts confirmed: he’s not lifelike enough to be an android, he looks as if he’s been embalmed and/or botoxed.
The other candidate is retired Air Force Full-bird Colonel Rob Maness. I was startled when I realized that the correct pronunciation of his surname rhymes with anus. That is why I dubbed him Col. Mayonnaise, pronounced Mynaze. Since he’s a teabagger it’s no surprise that Col. Mayonnaise is the opposite extreme of the Doctorbot: he was unscripted and appears to be a human being. A rather dumb human being, but flesh and blood nonetheless. He was actually polite: he said thank you very much at the end of nearly every reply/statement, as if he were a latter day Latka Gravas.
Other than being on the polite and pleasant side, Col. Mayonnaise is a generic teabagger. He likes freedom, states rights, the constitution, and long walks in the park with his dog, Fido. I made that last bit up. His only memorable line was when he said “Obamacare is an abomination.” Memorable but hardly original. Hmm, I wonder if he’s heard the Nick Lowe album The Abominable Showman?
I remain weirdly convinced that Landrieu has a shot at defying the CW and winning the election. It’s going to be much harder than past races where she had *substantial* GOP support. Many of those supporters have gone underground; I think that the President’s skin color is the unstated reason for that.
Louisiana has long been a weird state politically. We have more of a populist/progressive streak than most Southern states. It’s the legacy of Huey and Earl Long. But people here get unhinged about the subject of race, which has resulted in some weird election results. David Dukke got 39%+ of the vote in races for the Senate and Governorship in 1990 and 1991. Then Bill Clinton carried Louisiana twice. So it goes.
Louisiana isn’t the only state known for weird politics. This debate was not that strange but the Crist-Batboy shebang in Florida got off to one of the weirdest starts ever. There was a dispute over, of all things, Charlie Crist’s fan. The Batboy forces went bat shit crazy about a “rule violation” and the incumbent Governor refused to appear against his predecessor/challenger for 4 long minutes. Crist had the presence of mind to hit the stage whilst Gov. Batboy fumed. If you haven’t seen this clip, it’s must-see teevee:
The race was already-Ratherism alert-spandex tight and I think this will help Crist return to the Governor’s mansion. Rick Scott is supposed to be a manly, Tea Party type and he came off as a major wuss, and his subsequent defenses of the fan debacle have been incoherent at best. Gov. Batboy apparently has bats in the belfry.
A word about Charlie Crist. I know some on the netroots left think we shouldn’t welcome former Republicans into our fold. I’d disagree even if Charlie weren’t my countryman. He’s a moderate who was drummed out of the GOP for being insufficiently nasty and for hugging President Obama. Think about that: he was ostracized for being too nice and treating POTUS like a human being. I believe in the Democrats being the big tent party, we’ll let the GOP continue to be the clown party. Speaking of tents and clowns, my Freak Show post will be going up later today or tomorrow morning. I was too busy cheering on my Giants to a 3-1 LCS lead to watch it last night. I suspect that Twisty the clown is a Republican…