After an impassioned speech over the removal of Confederate monuments, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu said he was surprised his words went viral in an interview ahead of his Sunday appearance on "Meet The Press.""Evidently, it's an issue people across the country are dealing with..." as if he had no idea. Does he remember the wave of sentiment that (finally) spurred him to action on this issue began South Carolina? Of course he does. He just assumes you don't... or that no one will say anything.
"I commend it to people, I'm surprised ... that the speech went viral. It was intended for a local audience," he said in a recorded interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, "but evidently it's an issue that people across the country are dealing with and I hope they do it in a forthright, honest manner with each other."
Of course the speech was staged, produced, and distributed with the intent of getting into the national news. Of course Mitch saw it as an opportunity to build his brand. In the process, he ignored years of work by local activists and organizers. Had his speech been truly meant for a "local audience," it might have addressed their continuing concerns. Instead, Mitch's speech addressed locals only by name-dropping some nationally famous New Orleanians, "my dear friend Wynton Marsalis" or by, insufferably, musing on its heavily touristed cultural institutions.
We gave the world this funky thing called jazz, the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.By God, shut up, already. No local who argued and marched to take down the monuments could possibly be subjected to that language without groaning. Obviously the speech was crafted for a national audience. Not that that's entirely a bad thing. Mitch delivered the strongest arguments many of us had been making for years to an audience we weren't able to reach. Sure, he took all of the credit for himself, but at least he did represent our point of view well.
There's no need for him to lie about that. The pretense is insulting and and condescending to both the local and national audiences. But, then, this wouldn't be Mitch if it wasn't. The credit for that is all his.