Friday, October 26, 2007

Those who were there know what happened

From The Economist:

WHEN it comes to the business of elections, Louisiana likes to confound conventional wisdom. While most of its Southern neighbours were busy electing Republicans during the early 2000s, Louisiana stubbornly returned a Democrat, Mary Landrieu, to the Senate in 2002, and put another one, Kathleen Blanco, in the governor's mansion in 2003. Now, as Republican fortunes have sagged across the nation—in no small part because of the Bush administration's failure to cope with Hurricane Katrina's devastation of Louisiana's coast in 2005—the party is having a banner year in the state.

Atop the scorecard is the Republicans' reclamation of the governorship, in a rare primary-election victory by the 36-year-old Bobby Jindal on October 20th. Unusually, Louisiana holds a combined primary for all candidates, Democrat and Republican, with the top two vote-winners going forward to a run-off. Even more unusual is for a candidate to win outright on the first round, which is what Mr Jindal managed, polling an impressive 54% of the primary vote. Perhaps most remarkable of all is that Mr Jindal, who is Indian-American as well as very young, has overturned what had been supposed to be deep-seated prejudice. Four years ago, his defeat by Ms Blanco was widely viewed as proof that the state's “Bubbas”—rednecks uncomfortable with politicians who don't look like them—had not evolved.

But just four years later, Bubba seems to have granted Mr Jindal, whose given name is Piyush, honorary redneck status. (Four years ago, bumper stickers appeared with the slogan “Bubbas for Bobby”, but the message has taken a long time to sink in.)

Mr Jindal is something of a paradox. He is the first non-white governor since Reconstruction; he is a Rhodes scholar; he is the nation's youngest governor. In other words, he's a breath of fresh air, a sign of progress who promises to eradicate corruption in what many say is America's worst-governed state. On the other hand, he is a religious conservative who was as reliable a rubber-stamp as George Bush had in Congress, refusing to make a fuss even when Republicans there were blaming New Orleans for Katrina. Not all of the air is fresh.

Mr Jindal's victory is only the icing on the cake. The Republicans are expected to take five of the six elected state offices in Louisiana when the run-off votes are counted next month.

And next year the Democrats' top officeholder, Ms Landrieu, looks like facing an uphill battle. When she was last elected, in 2002, she won in large part thanks to a landslide in her home city, heavily Democratic New Orleans. Whereas the city's predilections haven't changed dramatically, its size has, and its electoral significance along with it. In 2002 almost 133,000 New Orleanians voted in the Senate race. On October 20th less than 60% of that number turned up at the polls, a sign of the city's post-Katrina shrinkage. Ms Landrieu won New Orleans by almost 80,000 votes in 2002, twice her overall margin of victory. This time, that was more votes than all the candidates got combined in the city that was once the alpha and the omega of Louisiana politics.

What the writers at The Economist don't understand (being head-up-their-ass elite snobs) is that while the mainstream media's narrative of Katrina's aftermath was that of massive failure due to the gross incompetence and utter lack of compassion on the part of George W Bush and his henchmen the people of Louisiana (who were the ones doing the actual suffering and were therefore paying the closest attention) know that the great overwhelming lion's share of the blame for all that went wrong belongs squarely on the desks of Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin.

While the elite media wants everyone to forget the little video clip of Blanco remarking to an assistant that she should have authorized the president to start sending in the federal aid sooner, she just couldn't stand the thought of him getting credit for handling the situation well.

Nagin, the dictionary definition of an "affirmative action politician", came unglued when he realized that the white people weren't going to come in and bail him out.

The people of New Orleans reelected Nagin mainly because the government made extraordinary efforts to make it possible for Katrina evacuees (even those who have put down roots in other areas and will never return to New Orleans) to cast absentee ballots. However the people of Louisiana as a whole have had enough with left-wing stupidity and are cleaning house.

The next time some moron starts in on how the Bush administration screwed up the post-Katrina response remind them of where the people on the ground blame place the blame.