Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Rising Democratic Star...

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In the midst of the terrible tragedy of Hurricane Katrina I wanted to draw attention to the wisdom and foresight of Democratic Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu, and comments she made two months prior to this awful natural disaster. Her insights relate to claims that the erosion of the wetland and shrinking Louisiana Coastline has exacerbated the impact of the flooding.

From the Guardian via the WP: Two months ago, Senator Landrieu told an audience of congressional staffers and scientific experts that more federal funds were needed over the next 20 years to restore Louisiana’s wetlands. She "warned that intentional rerouting of the Mississippi river over the past century, coupled with rising sea levels due to climate change, had eroded Louisiana's natural buffer against massive storms".

"This is not Disneyland. This is the real deal," Landrieu said, and in the event of flooding, "The French Quarter could be under 18 feet of water. It would be lost forever."

Her prescience and far-sightedness is deserving of the coverage it has received in the national press.

Landrieu has struck me as one of the shining lights of the Democratic Party ever since the 2002 mid term elections, during which she single handledly out debated a collection of four Republicans who decided to run seperately to take Landrieu's vote share below 50% (automatically forcing a run off with the best placed runner up).

Come election time, I get very nerdish indeed, and in Nov' 2002 I spent many long nights up until the early hours of dawn on C-Span.org watching Senate and Gubernatorial debates... learning about idiosynchratic policy disputes from Vermont to Arkansas. The Louisanna race was always one of the most compelling looking back.

Landrieu polled 46% to the closest Republican Suzanne Terrell who received 27%, and in the subsequent run off, despite the full backing of a triumphant Bush Administration still basking in 70%+ Approval ratings for her opponent... despite Susan Terrell receiving all of the votes from her Republican adversaries... and despite the election taking place in a southern red state, Landrieu still emerged victorious in the only real, stand out Democratic success during the 2002 mid terms.

From what I have seen of Landrieu, her strengths are her intelligence, and moderate, balanced disposition on a range of issues. She is precise and articulate, yet warm and accessible. She is hawkish on foreign policy and staunchly disciplined on fiscal matters. In 1999 she became the first Democratic woman to serve on the Senate Armed Services commitee and her list of legislative achievments is quite remarkable.

Right now, I just find it sad that in the staunchly patriachal society we continue to exist in... an individual as capable as Mary Landrieu isn't even being mentioned in the mix for the Democratic race in 2008, while party ideologues like Russ Feingold and Howard Dean are championed extensively simply because they support the unworkable policy of immediately withdrawing troops from Iraq. It's easy for Hillary because of her raised public profile.

Mary Landrieu is undoubtedly a rising Democratic star and someone I don't doubt that you'll be hearing much more about in the coming months and years. Personally, I'd love to see her on a ticket alongside Evan Bayh to give him a fighting chance against Hillary in 08'.

Mary Landrieu's Senate Website

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