Saturday, October 22, 2016

Any of these guys could lose

In case you missed this week's Senate debate, here is that.

I wrote an itty bit about the Senate race on Tuesday and I'm sure there will be more before election day. (We also got into it a little on the last Hunkerdowncast.) But here are just a couple of quick notes on the debate to keep things short.

First, we already knew this was a lame field. But it took seeing (some of) the candidates interacting on stage together to show just how weak each is in his or her own way.  Holding aside each candidate's fundamentals in terms of geographic or ideological base, name recognition, etc. and just looking at them as campaigners, they're all pretty bad to downright terrible. All things being equal, any of them could lose to any other. Anyway, here's the quick and dirty.

1) Caroline Fayard, as she has for much of the campaign, looked unready. Her responses sounded, not only like she was reciting a script, but also like she was nervously rushing to get through it. The saving grace there is that anything she says is wholly devoid of substance anyway. Her position on the state's lawsuit against the oil and gas industry continues to be weak tea. When she wasn't mumbling around about the futility of legal action, Fayard said she plans to assemble "a coalition of the willing" to fight coastal loss. That she would describe a project by invoking George W. Bush's phrase used to sell his Iraq invasion to doesn't instill much confidence. We don't know which staffer wrote that for her. We hope whoever it is is paid well.

2) Foster Campbell is, of this bunch, the candidate who comes nearest to getting the key issues right. He's the only candidate who backs the coastal lawsuit. In fact, he's the only one willing to fully accept the science on climate change being caused by human activity. (Although, we'd love to hear him try to say the word, anthropogenic out loud.)

But there's a reason Campbell has never been a successful statewide candidate.  He's a crappy campaigner who can't fend off even the most obvious attacks.  During the direct question part of the debate, sandwich magnate John Flemming attacked Campbell with a standard "guns and fetuses" type question tying Campbell (perhaps unfairly) to national Democrats' positions on abortion and gun control.  Foster could only boast of owning 36 shotguns in response leaving voters to determine whether they think that's a pointless dodge or a disturbing image.

3) Charles Boustany is boring.  This may work for him as much as it does against him.  For one thing, it helps him present as the least amateurish among the rough edged doofuses populating this very weak field. Because of this he can talk convincingly about his ability to "get results" without anyone remarking on the fact that those "results" mean the regular package of deregulation and favors for oil and chemical companies or trade and immigration policy that favors employers who rely on virtual slave labor.  It also might work to minimize the damage done by his having been linked to a salacious murder and prostitution scandal in Jeff Davis Parish. Voters may have difficulty processing that association if they aren't convinced the candidate has much of a pulse to begin with.

4) John Fleming is trying to corner the Generic Tea Party market. But that's not easy for him to do if he can't bribe Rob Maness out of the race OR draw enough support to keep freaking David Duke from qualifying to appear in debates. By the way, has Fleming considered trying to buy Duke out?  We're pretty sure he will take the money.

5) John Neely Kennedy is the smarmiest, phoniest, most despicable person, not only on that debate stage, but possibly in the entire state of Louisiana. He's a textbook example of what happens when a social incompetent tries to do politics. This is the only person we know of capable of inserting himself into the Boustany prostitution scandal and looking like the grosser person in the process. He is Louisiana's Ted Cruz.

During the debate Kennedy railed against "bureaucracy and regulations" before rattling off a list of regulations he would propose in order to reign that in. I suppose that is not surprising from someone who spent the better part of his tenure as Treasurer demagoguing against rather than honestly trying to solve the state's perpetual budget crisis.   In the process he has made enemies of just about everyone.  But he asks us to mistake that for a sign of personal integrity.

His ads are laden with this sort of condescension. This one got attention for a bizarre "love is the answer but you ought to keep a handgun" riddle. But it's the incoherence of the policy assertions that really serves as Kennedy's signature.  In the ad he says, "I believe gubmint tries to do too much," one breath before saying government "needs to enforce its immigration laws." Here is one where he threatens to bomb the hypothetical goats belonging to anyone who might join ISIS. That none of this makes any sense is evidence that he doesn't think the voters are very smart.  Maybe that's a fair assumption, but it's the obviousness of the insult that causes him to miss. 

His delivery is overlain with an affected folksy manner that sort of calls to mind an absurdist version of Ross Perot. He smacks his lips disgustingly and blinks approximately 50 times a second. All politicians are shameless liars. But the ones who voters can viscerally sense are lying every time they open their mouths are the most profoundly talentless. Only a hack as tone deaf as John Kennedy could produce a line as unfunny as his much talked about "week killer" bit.  The more Kennedy appears on TV, the less people are going to like him.

Of course that might matter more if any of his opponents weren't as glaringly weak as each is.  Any of them is bad enough to lose to him.  

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