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:
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.