Principled resignations are rare in American politics and academia. LSU Journalism Professor Bob Mann is a rare bird. He’ll be walking away from a job he loves because of his genuine concern that Governor-elect Jeff Landry might punish LSU for harboring one of his most articulate enemies. Vengeance thy name is Landry.
Before spending 17 years at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communications, Bob Mann was a key aide to Gret Stet Democratic Senators Russell Long and John Breaux as well as Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Mann began his political journey as an old school conservative but has moved steadily to the left, especially since moving to academia.
In December 2021, Landry publicly called on LSU to punish Mann after calling one of the attorney’s general employees a “flunkie.” Landry demanded LSU reprimand the professor.”
After surviving Landry’s attack, Bob Mann embraced the label flunkie on his Twitter (never X) profile. I disagree with the spelling of the F word: I think it ends in y, not ie. What’s a little linguistic quibbling among friends?
Mann believes that LSU’s administration won’t have his back in any dispute with the incoming governor. His concerns are well-founded. Bob has been stirring the academic pot for years. He’s been trying to shame the administration into fixing the university’s main library. He even has the temerity to point out the disparity between the funding of the football program and the library. That’s tantamount to heresy in SEC country where football is king, and libraries don’t matter. Books? Who the hell needs them? #sarcasm
My encounters with Bob Mann have been confined to social media but I consider him a friend. He’s become an integral part of NOLA Twitter despite living in Red Stick, a minor sin for which we long ago forgave him. I opted not to embed any of his tweets because everyone else has done so. What’s a little contrariness among friends?
The featured image was provided to me by Bob for a review I wrote of his 2022 memoir for Bayou Brief. Mann is a prolific author of non-fiction books on subjects ranging from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights Act to his definitive biography of Russell Long. In Legacy To Power, Mann pulled off the difficult task of writing a warts and all book about someone for whom he has great affection. Unlike Jeff Landry, Senator Long could take criticism with grace and humor.
In this past life as a flunky, Bob Mann was lucky in his bosses: Long, Breaux, and Blanco were all famous for being nice. Our next governor is an unrepentant asshole whose only notable act during his sole term in Congress was heckling President Obama:
Landry continues to wear that perpetual scowl as he prepares to become governor. But I didn’t come to bury Jeff Landry, I came to praise Bob Mann.
I’ve come to think of Bob Mann as the political conscience of the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He doesn’t mince words; he gives it to us straight. Not everyone appreciates Mann’s bluntness: state employees are supposed to grovel at the feet of powerful politicians. Not Bob Mann. We haven’t heard the last from him.
Finally, my predecessor as First Draft publisher Allison Hantschel bequeathed to us a category that perfectly describes Bob Mann and his fight for academic freedom: Big Damn Heroes. He’s certainly one of mine.
The last word goes to Lyle Lovett: