Monday, January 11, 2016

Well this will be different

This is from Stephanie Grace's column on the new governor.
Asked why he’s a Democrat, Edwards had this to say:

“Well, because I still believe that government has a role to play in improving people’s lives. And that you can’t do everything for everybody, both because it’s inappropriate and because it costs too much, but within reason, we ought to be helping people have a better life. And I don’t believe in a laissez faire approach to that.”
If you're looking for reasons to be optimistic about the incoming governor, this interview is a good place to start.  Edwards also talks about how a Democrat can win statewide office in supposedly "red" Louisiana.
“We are an extremely populist state, but there are some bellwether issues,” he said. “If you’re not pro-life and if you’re not pro-Second Amendment, too many people in Louisiana will not hear the rest of your message. And so you can be 100 percent in sync with them, but they’re never going to support you. And it just so happens that I am pro-life; I am pro-Second Amendment. I’m very populist in some ways as well. And that message was successful.”
Lamar picked out the same two quotes in today too but I wonder if his readers will draw the right conclusion from them.  Throughout the campaign, Edwards told supporters that he would not allow his opponents to "Out-gun me or out-God me." Lamar's article recommends that Democrats seeking statewide office in the future incorporate this tack into their strategy.
If Democrats in Louisiana are wise, however, they’ll take a few pages from their new governor’s playbook. They will need to resign themselves to the fact that they cannot win on some of the same hot-button issues that animate the national party.

There are twice as many pro-life voters in Louisiana as there are pro-choice voters. While the majority of Louisiana citizens favor specific and sensible gun control policy, a candidate who is perceived to be against the Second Amendment couldn’t win dogcatcher. I am not suggesting that Louisiana Democrats abandon these important issues, but if they are to win, they must become more sophisticated about how they define themselves and how they are defined by others.
Lamar is making a subtle point about political messaging. But I'm a little worried that, even though Lamar explicitly writes, "I am not suggesting that Louisiana Democrats abandon these important issues,"  some might read this analysis and determine that, at this moment when reproductive rights are more tenuous than they've been in decades, the smart thing is for liberals to STFU about it. 

That would be a shame because it would be a cowardly and morally indefensible retreat on a crucial question of women's health, not to mention their very status as persons and citizens.  Even John Bel's own preferred image of his brand of "populism" doesn't square with that. 
Other ideas Edwards champions also fit the populist approach. He wants to raise the state minimum wage to $8.50, $1.25 over the federal level, and disputes claims that most people who make the base amount are teenagers. His poster child is a single mom who works at a gas station, has to maintain a household and has to feed a family. The next time you fill up the tank and buy snacks, he suggested, look at the person behind the counter and ask, “How long would she have had to work to do what you just did?”
More importantly for students of Louisiana politics, it doesn't even accurately reflect the new governor's approach to policy. John Bel Edwards's personal beliefs and his "brand" as a candidate might conform to the Pro-Life label, but that doesn't mean his administration will pretend we live in the Dark Ages. 

Take, for instance, his appointee to head the Department of Health and Hospitals
Benjamin Clapper, director of Louisiana Right to Life, and the Rev. Gene Mills, head of Louisiana Family Forum, say the discrepancies between two résumés of Dr. Rebekah E. Gee may not disqualify her from being secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals — and at this point, neither opposes her nomination — but it raises questions.

Gee was named Tuesday by Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards to spearhead his efforts to expand Medicaid. Her appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate.

“I haven’t spoken to her,” Clapper told The Advocate on Thursday, shortly after announcing issues with her résumé. “I’m saying this is what’s out there. This is what her past looks like.”
He discovered that Gee’s 2007 curriculum vitae, while a clinical scholar with the University of Pennsylvania, included a February 2003 speech at the National Abortion Rights Action League that was not included in her 2012 résumé with the LSU Health Sciences Center.

The lectures listed on Gee’s 11-page LSU résumé go back only to 2006.

“I hope it was a matter of a failure to disclose rather than an intentional effort to advance what may be viewed, and will likely be viewed, as a hostile DHH secretary,” said Mills, who will release past statements from Gee on Friday that he says indicate that the nominee has aggressively advocated for access to abortions.

“I find it ironic that the most pro-life state in the nation has received, somewhat in a clandestine fashion, a very aggressive advocate for the abortion position. I find that not coincidental,” Mills said.
Governor Edwards hasn't even spent a day in office yet and Gene Mills is already pissed. This is going to be different.

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