By Robert Mann
“He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.”–Socrates
C.B. Forgotson, the respected Louisiana blogger who died Sunday at age 70, was a fearless, courageous man. He was also an honest man – brutally so, sometimes maddening and but never compromising in his pursuit of the truth.
When I worked for Gov. Kathleen Blanco, I didn’t particularly welcome his regular criticism of her, but I knew that he always told the truth as he saw it. It didn’t matter who the public official was or what he thought of that individual, personally. C.B. never cut people any slack when writing about their policies.
Looking back, C.B. was usually right. He had a well-earned fundamental distrust of politicians, almost certainly acquired by proximity to the political class during so many years at the state Capitol. C.B. not only knew as much about state tax and budget policy as anyone alive; he had an uncanny instinct for the shady, ulterior motivations of many political leaders.
Put another way, C.B. naturally – and, usually, sensibly – began from the position that things were rarely as they appeared. Some might call him cynical. I thought of him as wise and practical. All of us who write about Louisiana politics could use a bit more of C.B.’s inherent skepticism about politicians and politics.
Although he was not trained as a journalist, C.B. followed that old reporters’ saying, “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.”
When I began my blog and general rabble rousing in 2012, C.B. immediately enlisted as one of my most enthusiastic supporters. He not only shared with me his experience and deep knowledge of Louisiana politics, he gave me something more valuable at that time – friendship and unflinching moral support.
Over the past four years, hardly a day or two passed that I didn’t hear from C.B. about one thing or another. Usually, it was to compare notes on our mutual disdain of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s misrule. Most his email missives were just a line or two, but his encouragement was always meaningful and, when he offered his analysis about politics or policy, he was usually spot on.
I wish I had told him more how much his support and guidance meant to me. More than that, I hope he knew how much meaningful moral support he gave to other like-minded Louisiana bloggers, who were mustering the fortitude to speak truth to power. Even more, I hope that C.B. knew that his blogging and his dissent made a real difference.
C.B. wasn’t just spitting into the wind, as some of his critics wanted him to believe. He was reminding us that even in Louisiana, the people are sovereign. He was reminding the politicians that they owed their allegiance, not to the governor, LABI or some other special interest, but to the people.
He reminded us all that it was our obligation as citizens to do our part to save our state. For C.B., that part was his role as a relentless and effective critic of Louisiana’s political leaders.
Some people dismissed him because he rarely had anything positive to say about the politicians. But that wasn’t his job – and he knew it. C.B. was exceedingly comfortable playing the role of curmudgeon and subversive at a time when Louisiana desperately needed subversives.
His outspoken dissent didn’t make him popular at the Capitol. But it made him a hero to me and many others.
Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you.