Strategy for the Dems: move right

Before we get too wrapped up in Democratic chest-thumping about the Louisiana victories, consider this: How did Sen. Landrieu and Rep.-elect Rod Alexander win? Did they take on the president?

Well …

Rodney Alexander, the upset winner in John Cooksey’s old seat (a district that voted 59% for Bush but was redrawn to add more Democrats in 2001), won by running hard right. Late in the campaign he harped on his unconditional support of the administration’s Iraq plans, going so far to say “the President is right to underscore that we will act alone if the UN does not act.” His ads either ignored referring to his party or called him a “Louisiana Democrat for congress” (watch the ads – the inflection is loud and clear) who promised “to end the partisan politics.”

His official campaign bio is telling:

As a conservative voice, Rodney is outspoken in his support of the Second Amendment and prayer in school. He is pro-life and believes that all human life, in and out of the womb, has value. Rodney is an ardent supporter of a strong military to protect and defend our way of life. He supports our war on terrorism and believes that our soldiers, Veterans and military retirees deserve all the support that is available …Rodney has been a member of the Louisiana Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association.

As for Mary Landrieu, she hyped up her 2001 vote for the president’s tax cut (some Dems groused that Max Cleland had done nothing for himself by supporting this), made clear her support for war on Iraq, and voted for the homeland security bill while admitting she might not have done so if her re-election wasn’t looming.

So when blogger Kos says “now we know what to do to beat Bush and his “handpicked” GOP candidates,” he should make it clear – they have to run as Republicans.


Louisiana’s last Republican

William Pitt Kellogg was born in 1831, in a small town in Vermont. He moved to Illinois in his teens, and from there his career took a meteoric path. In 1856 he won a seat in Congress, a move that put him in the upper reaches of the Republican party (he’d switched from a Whig shortly beforehand). It was around this time he became friends with Abraham Lincoln, and for the next few years he worked like a dog to get Lincoln the Republican presidential nomination in 1860. When Lincoln carried Illinois, Kellogg cast one of the state’s votes in the Electoral College.

Kellogg was not short of leverage in the Lincoln administration. In 1861 he was appointed Chief Justice of Nebraska, but he left the post briefly to volunteer in the Union army. The 30 year-old Pitt Kellogg quit for reasons of ill health, and went back to Nebraska until 1865. It was in that year that Lincoln appointed him Collector of the Port of New Orleans, the job that sent him south and made him on of the first, and most powerful, “Carpetbaggers.” For the whole of Reconstruction, he was a kingmaker in the military-occupied state.

In 1868 the interim government made Kellogg a U.S. Senator – he resigned in 1868 to run for governor, with the promise that President Grant’s new elections board would ensure Republican votes would actually be counted. He won the election, but the erstwhile board certified a Democrat instead, and the state had two governors working with separate legislatures until Grant intervened to abolish the Democratic government in May 1873. Most Lousianans refused to pay taxes in protest.

On September 4, 1874, an armed batallion of Democrats and members of the White League (the party’s militia) laid seige to the state house, and Pitt Kellogg fled to the Federal Customs House to wait for relief from the U.S. military. Even after order was reestablished, Pitt Kellogg’s prestige was up in smoke. The state House voted to impeach him in 1875, but the Senate, dominated by Republicans, dismissed the impeachment on grounds of spuriouness.

Pitt Kellogg, under constant threat of assassination, finally got his relief in 1876. That was the year of the presidential election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden, which ended in a stalemate when the electoral votes of Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana were contested. In 1877, the national Electoral Commission voted to give Lousiana’s electoral votes to the Republican, Hayes, and to appoint Pitt Kellogg to the U.S. Senate, in return for the withdrawal of the U.S. Army from the state. Within weeks Pitt Kellogg was back in Washington.

With the troops removed, Louisiana’s Democrats were quick to reassert their power. In 1879 they drew up a new constitution that laid the groundwork for the disenfranchisement of Louisiana’s blacks. House Speaker Louis A. Wiltz, who had led the 1875 impeachment, was elected governor. Pitt Kellogg’s term ended in 1883, and the state Senate voted to replace him with Randall Lee Gibson, a Confederate General who had become one of the South’s heroes at Shiloh, Chickamunga, and the Battle of Atlanta. Pitt Kellogg was elected to congress, serving one term before retiring to a mansion in Washington, D.C.

In 1917, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution switched election of senators from the vote of the state Senate to state suffrage. Louisiana has never elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate under this system.


Maybe I spoke too soon …

If you want a laugh, read this headache-inducingly-funny review of the Teenage Mutant Turtles Christmas Special on X-Entertainment. Choice lines:

The first line of the first of many bad songs: “Deck the halls with pep-per-roni.” Not enough for you? The following line, mysteriously spoken in a Spanish accent by Leo: “No Bebop and no Rock-stea-dy.’

I’m not saying that everyone who watches this will start killing babies, but I’m certain that most who saw it at least put their head through a plate glass window.

With that, it’s an assault on all things holy as Splinter sings his version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, a song that seems to last longer than Mandela’s stint in prison.


Michael Moore’s snuff film

Some reviews of “Bowling for Columbine,” most notably Roger Ebert’s, scoffed that the documentary got an “R” rating. Why shield the young and impressionable from imagery that showed what gun violence could really do?

Well, the R rating might be deserved. “Bowling for Columbine” is the only mass-market film I can think of that portrays a real man really dying by a gunshot wound.

During one montage, we see a snippet of the Bud Dwyer footage. Who was Bud Dwyer? He was a Pennsylvania Treasurer who shot himself, on live TV, with a .357 magnum. Here is frame 114 of his suicide footage, which is replayed in Moore’s movie. Dwyer’s brains have literally been blown out. If you can stomach it, here’s the entire broadcast.

Something to think about next time a critic whines about the onerous rating system.


Sigh …

Is there any liberal cause that the New York Times editorial page won’t support? Just one? Please?

Far from stifling dissent or censoring speech, McCain-Feingold does the opposite, by drawing rules that help give ordinary Americans of all political views a meaningful role in the electoral process. It would be a sad day for democracy if, in the name of freedom, a court struck down these much-needed repairs for a broken electoral system.

This is akin to me saying: “Far from hurting blacks, slavery creates a society that enriches all citizens and brings people of every race together.” It’s a complete sentence. Grammar’s all there. But it makes no sense at all.


Ready for his close-up

My friend and fellow newspaper editor James Justin Wilson made the front page of the Detroit Free Press today, debating a UM freshman as the Supreme Court announced it would take Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger. Both Detroit papers (the Free Press and the News) editorialized in favor of the school and its policy of treating minority (not Asian) students differently than whites (and Asians) in admissions. The Free Press’s rationale was particularly incoherent:

In the case of the University of Michigan, the U.S. Supreme Court faces fundamental questions: Will it live up to its 48-year-old decree that separate is not equal [Brown vs. the Board of Education] and an integrated society is a fair society? Or will it turn its back on the quest for equality by striking down affirmative action?

The paper didn’t explain how applying the same standards to all students regardless of color would make them “separate.” How far the racial preferences supporters have fallen.

The daily paper of the University is more even-handed, simply suggesting that students get informed.