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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, February 03, 2006

Gov. Haley Barbour: "One of the Smoothest Operators Ever"

[This column is from BayouBuzz.com of February 3, 2006. Its author is Jeff Crouere of Metairie, Louisiana. Thanks, Jeff, for the kind words about the Magnolia State!]

Yesterday, it was painful to watch the testimony of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco. As she was grilled by Senators over issues such as the lack of a plan to evacuate those citizens most in need, particularly nursing home patients, the Governor did her utmost to communicate the position of her administration. She claimed that her staff did the best job they could under incredibly difficult circumstances. Through it all, the Governor was defensive and somewhat shaky, giving committee members the view of a leader who was slightly unsure, not entirely composed.

Sitting next to her was one of the smoothest operators ever to sit in any Governor’s Mansion. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was confident in his responses, always promoting how his state has recovered since Katrina. He reiterated the positives of his citizens, such as their incredible resiliency. Barbour was articulate, poised and made his state proud, everything that Kathleen Blanco was not because, unfortunately, our governor was not especially articulate or poised and certainly did not make our state proud.

In fact, in conversations with Democrats and Republicans yesterday, the response was very similar. I heard people say, “I still can’t believe she is our Governor,” or “What an embarrassment!” Negative comments abounded, not solicited from yours truly, who was just doing an unscientific survey of concerned Louisiana voters. To say the least, it proved to me that Louisiana voters are very concerned right now.

Governor Blanco is certainly doing her best in trying times. She is not a crook and seems to have her heart in the right place. Unfortunately, in post-Katrina Louisiana, extraordinary leadership is required. Through this crisis, we have seen nothing extraordinary about Kathleen Blanco, just an ordinary person in a position that requires incredible skill, visionary thinking and demonstrable leadership abilities. Mississippi has a Governor who possesses those traits and, as a result, the state is much further along than Louisiana right now. Their citizens want to come back home to the Magnolia State and as Barbour stated yesterday, “99%” of its children are back in Mississippi schools. Mississippi will come back bigger and better and more confident about their state and a large part of that rebound should be credited to their leader, Haley Barbour.

In the neighboring state of Louisiana, there is disunity, distrust and despair. People are anything but confident. They are not sure if the state will recover. They are upset and unhappy about government at all levels. Some have fallen into utter hopelessness. In the midst of the crisis, they saw a governor who did not inspire them, did not lead and waffled while the crisis became more acute. There is no confidence that Kathleen Blanco can lead Louisiana to recovery, which is why there has been a recall campaign mounted against her and her approval rating is the third lowest in the country.

Despite all the complaining, Louisiana voters have no one to blame but themselves, since they placed Blanco in office. Given a choice between a Rhodes Scholar with a formidable intellect and endless ideas on how to improve the state and Blanco, voters inexplicably chose Blanco. It shows again that elections do matter. Maybe next time, Louisiana voters will weigh their choices more carefully and more fully comprehend the importance of their role in determining the future of the state. The good thing about elections is there is always another opportunity to do the right thing, although now the stakes have never been higher. [Blanco's 2003 runoff opponent was the Republican Bobby Jindal, who is now a congressman.]

Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 8:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:30 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and Noon till 2 p.m. weekdays on several Louisiana radio stations. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at jeff@ringsidepolitics.com.


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