By Robert Mann
Did you hear the stunning news about how Sen. Mary Landrieu vilified all her white constituents as knuckle-dragging, virulent racists?
It was quite shocking and will probably disqualify her from being re-elected to the Senate. Her comments were so abhorrent and repulsive that she may have to change her name and move to another state.
Here’s how the right-wing news site Brietbart News reported this shocking incident:
In comments sure to cascade into regional races across the South, embattled Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday that Southern racism is to blame for President Barack Obama’s unpopularity.
“Why does President Obama have a hard time in Louisiana?” asked Todd.
“Let me be very, very honest with you,” said Landrieu. “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.”
Landrieu added: “It has not always been a good place for women, to be able to present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place. So we’ve had to work a little bit harder on that. But, you know, the people trust me, I believe. Really, they do.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted Landrieu’s comments as desperate and out of touch.
“She appears to be living in a different century. Implied in her comments is the clear suggestion that President Obama and his policies are unpopular in Louisiana because of his ethnicity,” said Jindal. “That is a major insult by Senator Landrieu to the people of Louisiana, and I flatly reject it.”
Wait, you might say, that’s it? Landrieu noted an inconvertible fact — “the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans” — and that’s what causes a freak-out on the right?
If you read only Brietbart, when asked about Obama’s unpopularity in Louisiana, Landrieu didn’t stop at “go.” She went right to race. But Brietbart’s mission is not to report Landrieu’s remarks in context. It’s job is to stoke white outrage over the notion that any Democrat might note the uncomfortable fact that racism still exists in places like Louisiana.
In fact, as reported by NOLA.com, when Todd asked Landrieu about Obama’s poor job ratings in Louisiana, she first said this:
“One of the reasons that the president’s so unpopular is because he put the moratorium on off-shore drilling. Remember? After Macondo. And our state was furious about that. Now he could have shut down the BP operations but he didn’t, he shut down the whole Gulf. When you shut down the whole Gulf of Mexico it puts a lot of people here at risk and out of business. That’s number one.
She told Todd that “his energy policies are really different than ours.”
“I mean, we’re a pro-production state,” Landrieu said. “We wanna drill almost anywhere. People believe that it’s an opportunity for Americans to become energy self-sufficient.”
Interesting how Brietbart and other “outraged” Landrieu critics forget to mention that her first response to that question was to defend Louisiana’s oil and gas economy.
But Bobby Jindal wants you to know that he’s outraged by even the suggestion that there exist racists in a state in which 60 percent of white voters gave David Duke their vote (in the 1990 U.S. Senate and 1991 governor’s races).
I guess all those Duke voters are dead, right? Now, it’s all sweetness and light in Louisiana.
Well, allow me to interrupt Jindal’s rendition of Kumbaya and point out that racism is still alive and well in Louisiana and throughout the South. If Landrieu pointing out that obvious fact sparks outrage and discomfort among conservatives, then how on Earth do these Republicans think they’ll ever win over black voters? (To tell the truth, they couldn’t care less about those voters, as this incident proves.)
While state Sen. Elbert Guillory is busy telling black voters that the Democratic Party takes them for granted, Bobby Jindal and other Republicans are busy undermining Guillory’s message by suggesting that racism isn’t a problem in Louisiana.
No wonder Republicans can’t make gains with blacks or Hispanics. They refuse to even acknowledge those groups’ basic problems and concerns. They cannot admit that blacks, and not just in the South, face all manner of discrimination in their daily lives.
It might be news to Jindal and Guillory, but you’re not going to compete for black votes when you demonstrate that you have not even the slightest idea how to speak to black voters.
In the end, this GOP freak-out over Landrieu’s mild observations might help her at the polls next Tuesday. Black voters, who tend to vote in lower numbers in midterm elections, need a good, vivid reminder about what’s at stake in this election.
And this is what’s at stake: the nation’s voters might be about to turn over the U.S. Senate to a party that doesn’t believe racism exists.