Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to win friends and influence people

Mitch Landrieu has a reputation for working well with others.
For all his accomplishments, though, Landrieu is wearing thin on political insiders. Since winning a resounding re-election in 2014, he has furthered his reputation for brooking little dissent or pushback, even from longtime friends and political allies, who privately say he will launch into tirades over the phone without even saying hello.

“If you’re not 100 percent with him on his agenda, then he’s 100 percent against you,” said Jeff Arnold, who represented Algiers in the state House for 14 years until 2015. “I call him a 100 percenter. I was probably with him on 95 percent of city matters. But I wasn’t with him on Algiers and on the firefighters, so I became his sworn enemy. My philosophy is that I didn’t burn bridges. Mitch is a burn-the-bridges guy.”

A range of black political leaders interviewed for this article said the mayor has lost their support because of his high-handed ways, but none would say this on the record.

In an interview two years ago, Landrieu invoked the cliché that you have to break eggs if you want to make an omelet. “There are entrenched political interests in this state that have strangled the progress of the state and city for a long time that I have now tangled with,” he said.

Landrieu acknowledged having sharp words with some of those who have disagreed with him. He blamed it on his “impatience” and “passion.”
The scenario where even the ostensible allies who exist within Mitch's tent call him an asshole ("productive" or othewise) is familiar by now.  I do hope that at some time in the future we turn our attentions to the question of for whom he has been productive.  Because the most prominent characteristic of his time as mayor has been the spike in inequality.  Circumstances for the most desperate have worsened even as great fortunes have been made among the few to truly benefit from the city’s "recovery."

Mitch's friends in the political/professional class (in New Orleans they are one and the same)  can only grumble under their breath,  though, because they are among the beneficiaries. If you produce for the folks who matter, you can be whatever kind of asshole you want. It's the sort of thing that has worked for Mitch's elitist mentors which is why they are the most proud of him.
Isaacson also said the mayor could have a place at the Aspen Institute — which brings experts together to try to solve complex policy questions — or with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative announced two weeks ago, funded through a foundation created by Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor.

The $32 million effort “equips mayors and their senior leaders with cutting-edge tools and techniques to more effectively tackle pressing management challenges faced in their cities,” according to its website.

“Michael Bloomberg is one of Mayor Landrieu’s biggest fans, and so is everybody at that foundation,” Isaacson said. “Mitch Landrieu is the only mayor that Michael Bloomberg speaks about with awe and excitement.”
The good news is, we may be at a point here in the wake of the rise of Trump style corruption where we're starting to realize that we will need a better kind of politics than mere Clinton-Landrieu style corruption in order to fight it. We're not quite there yet, but maybe we'll get there.

In the meantime this story about Mitch's diminished options may illustrate the end of an era. But only in a small way. Certainly there's plenty of money waiting for him on the cot at Aspen or whatever new think tank the donor class slaps together to churn out neoliberal bullshit for the next four of eight years. (The Calvin Fayard Center For Urban Resilience?)  Then again maybe we're missing a trick. Where else might Mitch go next?

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