Plain Speaking

Plain Speaking was the title of a 1974 oral biography of Harry Truman by Merle Miler. It was based on interviews the author conducted with the former President for an unaired teevee special. It was a runaway best seller and had a lot to do with the rehabilitation of Truman’s reputation. He looked good in contrast to the rampant mendacity of LBJ and Tricky Dick. One thing, however, the book ran away from was an objective version of the truth. The flaw in the interview format is that Truman’s version of events was unchallenged even when it bore little resemblance to the agreed upon facts. In any event, it’s a good read and even if it doesn’t hold up to detailed scrutiny, it’s still an interesting portrait of how Truman saw himself.

That was a long introduction to a discussion of the latest election year tempest in a teabag involving Senator Mary Landrieu. As you know I’m not always thrilled by her blue doggery but I do respect her tenacity and candor. She indulged in some plain speaking about the South, race, and the President this week that has Gret Stet Gopers freaking out:

Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama’s deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.

In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Landrieu was quoted as saying that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”

The comments came after an NBC reporter asked the senator why Obama has such low approval ratings in Louisiana. Landrieu’s first response was that the president’s energy policies are deeply disliked by residents of the oil and gas-rich state.

She then added, “I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”


State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere issued a statement late Thursday calling Landrieu’s remarks “insulting to me and to every other Louisianian.”

“Louisiana deserves better than a senator who denigrates her own people by questioning and projecting insidious motives on the very people she claims to represent,” he said. “Senator Landrieu and President Obama are unpopular for no other reason than the fact the policies they advance are wrong for Louisiana and wrong for America.”

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a statement calling Landrieu’s comments “remarkably divisive” and Maness issued a statement calling on the senator to apologize.

Landrieu’s campaign declined to comment Thursday night.

I think Gov. PBJ should apologize for ruining the state’s education and health care systems but that’s obviously divisive on my part. As to Mr. Villere, I’m unaware of any positive contributions he’s made to the state, unless you consider electing PBJ and Bitter Vitter to be positive. I, for one, do not.

Senator Landrieu is only guilty of genuine plain speaking by pointing out that the South has a long history of de facto and de jure racism. It is questionable as to whether PBJ and his family would have been permitted to vote in Louisiana before the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

The only thing offensive about this flap is the notion that telling the truth about our past is denigrating anyone. The hatred of President Obama is as irrational as the racism that the Deep South has long been known for. It was not long ago that signs such as these were common:

Jim Crow signs

I realize our Governor thinks he’s special because he went to Brown University, but the only brown they cared about in the Jim Crow South was skin color as you can see from this sign:


There are, of course, many Mexicans with lighter skin that “Bobby” Jindal, not to mention black Creoles. I wish our Governor would pause just once to contemplate this fact: before 1965, his family would have been second class citizens based solely on the color of their skin. I guess it’s too much to hope that the Governor and his ilk know anything about the “one drop rule. But that would involve knowing history and having some understanding of where we’ve come from. I guess I’m guilty of denigrating PBJ and making “insidious” assumptions about the good, white people of the South. I won’t apologize and neither should Mary Landrieu.

All I’ve got to say to Senator Landrieu is: stick to your guns, and you go, girl.

6 thoughts on “Plain Speaking

  1. My impression of Landrieu has mostly been of the “Senator from BP” variety. I saw that statement above somewhere and it passed right by me because I thought it was such a mild and unexceptional thing to say. Guess I was wrong! And I suspect she knew what the reaction would be, so good on her for that.

    Now if she would just climb out of the pocket of the oil and gas industry…

  2. Pro oil and gas industry, yes. Pro-BP? Not even PBJ is pro-BP. Landrieu made sure that much of the BP fine money was channeled to coastal restoration.

    She *is* a mixed bag but is not running away from her vote for the ACA. The MSM keeps saying it’s not an issue this year. It certainly is here.

  3. I’ve long denigrated Roger Villere. Oh, and I denigrate Bobby Jindal, too, but that goes without saying.

    Mary’s the best we’re going to get, so I hope the voters will turn out to keep her in the Senate.

  4. So where did my comment go? Do you have comment moderation? Anyway, as I have already said, I’ve denigrated Roger Villere for a long time now and Jindal, too, of course, which goes without saying.

    Mary’s the best we can do, so please get out there and vote for her. All she said was the bleeding obvious.

  5. The South not friendly to Blacks? Why in the fields they sung the praises of their white masters who brought them to the land of freedom and opportunity !

    I’m no expert on LA, but I can say that in GA and SC I routinely heard similar to the first sentence – including a tract distributed as a BBQ joint in SC.

    Here in MO, the local TV news loves to do their version of a perp walk when someone in arrested for drugs or sexual crimes. The commenters all post their weird imaginations of ways to provide the maximum torture to the people. (Kind of like a medieval morality play where you purify yourself by screaming the vilest insults at the condemned ? And I’ve really got to wonder about the psychology of the folks that invent tortures for others.)

    Relevant here as there are a few folks who never comment unless the person is black or Hispanic. Then the comments are respectively to send them back to Africa or send them back to Mexico; along with comments that all the druggies are Hispanic or Black. It is ridiculous enough when the person with a Hispanic sounding name is from a family that has been here for generations. But their paranoid rage has expanded that they are even accusing folks with no Hispanic connections to be sent back (even though the names aren’t Hispanic, they claim the accused is using an assumed name).

  6. Just to share, this week I just happened to watch a ?1939? movie, “Way Down South” written by poet Langston Hughes and film pioneer Clarence Muse (both who managed to have success in a world not hospitable to African Americans).

    I found it really interesting how they, in the process of voicing some of the horrors of slavery, still had to keep things muted. They must have been continually questioning how far they could push the envelope in the 1930s.

    By today’s standards, about as tame as you can get. The only hint of struggle came from the change of the plantation from a relatively enlightened plantation owner to a callous owner interested only in the bottom line (still a parable for today ?) . Still had the slaves singing in the fields. A showpiece for singer Bobby Breen as the son of the better plantation owner. But for the 1930s this was pushing the envelope.

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