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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jane said...

how very refreshing that someone has found something positive to reflect on about an elected official. it's like finding a needle in a haystack, but you've managed to do it. great post!

Graham said...

That's sweet Jane, thank you. I think there's an always an awful lot to be admired in our elected officials... but cynicism too frequently deprives us of an objective assessment.

Landrieu has always impressed me as being a bit special.

Eban Crawford said...

Things are so weird here in Littlehampton, the feeling of helplessness. Some of our family refused to leave their homes. We were all so upset with them. As of now it looks like everyone in our family made it. We still have not had contact with Faith's dad. We believe he is OK, it is the not knowing for sure that is doing our heads in.

It is so messed up to see me and Faith's childhood playground destroyed. I have no idea if my childhood friends are OK or not.

I have been throwing myself into my podcasts, but the thoughts are all still there. So messed up being here in England with the great weather, living on the coast, knowing what our friends and family are going through. It makes us feel a bit guilty.

Graham said...

I'm so sorry Eban. It's awful being away from family in situations like this. I can't imagine what it would have been like being in LA when the terrorist attacks occurred in London for the exact same reason you describe, but this is much worse in terms of the devastation wrought on your home. Like I said I'm so sorry, Eban.

I hope everyone is ok

NYgirl said...

Good job again Graham. I don't know much about her, but she does not appear to be of the shrill Howard Dean variety, which is a good thing for all of us.

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I am not familiar with her but I say certainly the south could use her.
Being that from what I have heard recently there has been some kind of plan on the table to restore stability to the whole gulf coast and prevent eco – damage by the re-routing you described, and that this would have prevented “ most” of the damage that occurred in New Orleans this week. I’d say she sounds wise.

Graham said...

Very wise, and, yes, right now, the South definately needs her.

You'd never know the Democratic party was home to such impressive individuals if you see the public image portrayed of the party. As a Democrat, I can't just blame Fox News for that, we have to take some responsibility for the people and policies that we are highlighting.

Thanks for all the comments :). Best wishes again to Eban's family. I hope everything, and everyone is ok.

web_loafer said...

Ahhhh, excuse me for mentioning this, but Mary Landrieu won a close election in the only state she would have even won a primary in, well maybe New York or California, but she is not in the same ballpark as leaders. But, if the Democrats want to try to run her in a national election........be my guest.

Graham said...

I just think that her political calibre as a moderate, and her economic and national security ideas would serve the Democratic Party much better than many of the policy ideas that are currently being floated.

I understand what you say about her qualities as a politician. But, to be fair, in all of this terrible tragedy, Landrieu, to me at least, has been the one public official to stand up and really impress me. Her interview with George Stephanapoulous was incredibly powerful, informative, and real. She is a breath of fresh air, and one of the best things about the Democratic Party.

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