In a political party devoid of young leaders, some are speculating that Mitch Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans, must be a prime presidential candidate for 2020. He was mentioned along with about a dozen other presidential prospects in a New York Times article. This national publicity for Landrieu follows his interview on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program discussing his crusade to remove four Confederate monuments in New Orleans.
Not surprisingly, by championing the removal of Confederate monuments, Landrieu is scoring political points with the far-left leadership of the Democrat Party. In fact, Landrieu’s political ambition is the whole reason the monuments are being removed.
Prior to the Mayor’s embrace of this cause, there was never any groundswell of support in New Orleans for the monuments to be removed. Before Mitch Landrieu was Mayor of New Orleans, four African Americans served in the city’s top position and none of them tried to remove the monuments.
When Landrieu was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Lt. Governor, he never made the removal of Confederate monuments an issue. As Lt. Governor, Landrieu controlled state museums and was tasked with promoting the culture and heritage of Louisiana as well as fostering tourism. It would have been the perfect time for a political leader so concerned about Confederate monuments to make it a statewide issue. Instead, he said nothing about Confederate monuments.
During his four campaigns for Mayor of New Orleans in 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2014, Landrieu made no mention of his seemingly burning desire to remove the monuments. It was only after a tragic shooting in South Carolina that Landrieu saw an opportunity to make the removal of Confederate monuments his signature issue.
He knew that this stand against Confederate monuments would give him national publicity. Landrieu also knew that in Louisiana his prospects for statewide office were nil. Thus, he needed another goal, to set his sights on national political opportunities.
In November 2016, a clear opportunity for a cabinet position was lost when Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidency. Now that Donald Trump is President, Landrieu is auditioning for the role of chief antagonist. In recent weeks, the Mayor has ramped up his rhetoric against the Justice Department’s crackdown on sanctuary cities. The Mayor is an ardent supporter of New Orleans retaining its sanctuary city status; although he claims the city is not breaking any laws.
All his activities are clearly exposing the Mayor’s new goal, running for President in 2020. For Landrieu, fighting Donald Trump and fighting racist monuments is a perfect platform for a lifelong politician to run for national office. He has started a political action committee, Nola PAC, and is constantly pitching his supporters for funding to fight against Trump and racist monuments.
Although the Mayor is long on ambition, he is short on actual accomplishments. Other than political office, Landrieu has zero meaningful private sector experience. His record as Lt. Governor is undistinguished and as Mayor it has been a total failure.
If Democrats care to investigate his record, they will notice his inability to fight violent crime, reform the New Orleans Police Department, fix failing infrastructure or bring good paying jobs to the city. In fact, the population of New Orleans is now declining for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, as people are being forced out of the city by the high crime rate and the Mayor’s unquenchable desire to raise taxes.
The race for the Democrat Party presidential nomination in 2020 will be wide open; however, if Mayor Landrieu is given thoughtful consideration it will show how desperate the situation has become for a once proud political organization.Instead of providing a safe environment, jobs and opportunity for his citizens, the Mayor has created a major controversy which is leading to racial division and violence. He has ignored local standing problems such as the violent crime rate to pursue the removal of Confederate monuments and his own political agenda.
If Democrats want a problem solver, they need to look elsewhere. However, if they want a self-serving politician who cares little about the real plight of his constituents, but is brimming with unending ambition, then Mitch Landrieu would be a perfect choice as their presidential nominee.
The Confederate monument removal frenzy has now spread from New Orleans to Lafayette, Louisiana. A monument dedicated to Confederate General “Alfred” Mouton should be removed, according to activists with the group Move the Mindset. A member of the group, Frank Crocco, says that he agrees with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu that Confederate statues “don’t represent the community anymore.”
The Mouton monument opponents were emboldened by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision clearing the way for Mayor Landrieu’s administration to remove four Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Among the New Orleans monuments, the statue honoring General Robert E. Lee is the oldest and was unveiled in 1884. In Lafayette, the Mouton statue has been in place since 1922. These Confederate statues are both works of work and historical treasures that need to be protected, not removed and potentially damaged or even destroyed.
The effort to remove Confederate monuments gained momentum in 2015 after white supremacist Dylan Roof killed nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was later discovered on the Internet that Roof had been pictured waving the Confederate flag. Soon thereafter, South Carolina officials removed the Confederate Flag from their statehouse grounds.
In New Orleans, Mayor Landrieu used the South Carolina tragedy to mobilize opposition to the four Confederate monuments. He was successful in obtaining a 6-1 New Orleans City Council vote, which labeled the statues as “nuisances” and gave official approval for their removal.
While the decision has been ratified by the courts, there are pending lawsuits in both state and federal courts and the potential for legislative action in Baton Rouge aimed at protecting the monuments.
The whole process could also be derailed by a lack of funding. Reports are circulating that the anonymous donor who promised to cover the costs of removing the Confederate monuments has withdrawn his offer. There is also the potential for a lack of qualified bidders to handle such a delicate project. Unfortunately, no one knows who is bidding on the project or funding it because the Landrieu administration refuses to provide the public with this information.
If the Mayor is successful and the four monuments are moved to an undisclosed warehouse for temporary storage, there is no assurance that they will be preserved or relocated in a public setting. In fact, there are some rumors that a private individual may eventually possess the monuments at his “slave museum.”
Presently, there are more questions than answers, but we do know that the Mayor is fixated on removing the statues and he now has legislative and judicial approval to move forward.
The process might not end with the removal of the four Confederate monuments because there are vocal activists with the group Take ‘Em Down NOLA who want to remove dozens of other statues in New Orleans, including the city’s most iconic monument, the statue of Andrew Jackson in the French Quarter. This statue, right in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, in Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter is the most photographed spot in the Gulf South. Removing such a gem would be devastating to New Orleans as a tourist attraction and historical destination.
These activists want the city of New Orleans to be completely free of references to Confederate heroes or slave owners. They demand that any landmarks and street names honoring former slave owning Presidents such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson must also be removed.
This campaign is not new, it actually started in the 1990’s when Orleans Parish Public School Board officials stripped the name George Washington from a school. Even though he was a brilliant general, our first president and our most influential Founding Father, since he owned slaves the school board judged him to be unworthy to adorn a public school.
Along with monuments and school names, street names will also need to be changed. Residents can say goodbye to Jefferson Davis Parkway, Robert E. Lee Blvd., Jackson Avenue, Washington Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, Bienville Street, Calhoun Street, Henry Clay Avenue, among many, many others. This will cause confusion and bring economic costs to thousands of citizens and businesses who will be forced to deal with the headaches of changing their official addresses.
Before the landscape of New Orleans is changed forever, it is imperative that the residents of the city be allowed a vote on the issue. On a matter, so important to the future of New Orleans, voters should have input. It should not be left to the politicians or unelected federal judges.
If the Mayor is so confident of the correctness of his position, why not give the citizens the right to make the final decision? Surely, in a city with a 65% African American majority, citizens would agree with the Mayor, right?
Or, maybe not, which is why Landrieu and his political cronies hoard all the decision-making power and give none of it to the citizens of New Orleans, the people most impacted by their misguided governance.
Back in late January of 1999, I had just finished a two-year stint as Executive Director and Deputy Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. Looking for a new project, I started a political newsletter with journalist and commentator Christopher Tidmore.
While interviewing Ed Butler, the new General Manager of talk station WTIX 690 AM, we were offered positions as talk show hosts on the station. Of course, we gladly accepted his kind invitation, although we had no experience or training. It was a great opportunity for complete novices. Fortunately, Butler was patient as we learned the business and became more comfortable on the air.
Eventually, Chris moved to another station and I brought on a new co-host, Leslie Stewart, to fill the role of my liberal counterpart. A year after the radio show started, we created a television version of the show and I recruited former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial as my liberal co-host. Our radio and TV on-air battles were spirited, but respectful, hopefully educating our audience not demoralizing them.
After another year, I bid fond adieu to both Leslie and the Mayor and had the formidable challenge to be the solo host of both programs. A show that had started as Politically Speaking Louisiana Style became Ringside Politics.
After WTIX 690 AM, the program moved to Pittman Broadcasting on the Northshore and Lafayette and then find its home in June 2007 on WGSO 990 AM. This remains the only locally owned news/talk station in New Orleans, as all the others are owned by either out of state media conglomerates or individuals.
This week, I have the good fortunate to celebrate 18 years on the radio as a New Orleans talk show host, a lone conservative voice on an island of liberals. In fact, New Orleans is a deep blue island in the red sea of Louisiana. For example, in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton received 81% of the vote in New Orleans, while only receiving 38% statewide.
New Orleans is a city with immense potential, but immense problems. There is rampant poverty, blight, horrible street conditions, homelessness and a high crime rate. The liberal Democrats own all the current problems afflicting the city. Democrats literally control everything from the schools to the streets. In fact, there is not one Republican serving in an elected public office in New Orleans. The last Republican Mayor of New Orleans was elected during Reconstruction.
Hosting conservative media programs in such a liberal market is a challenge. At least, I don’t have much competition for being the conservative voice of New Orleans. One “conservative” news/talk station has all out of town syndicated political shows, while the other major talk station in New Orleans features hosts who are either moderate or outright liberal.
The so-called objective political analysts on television are liberals. The local newspapers mostly feature liberal columnists, and, quite often, will present only liberal editorial opinions, apart from an occasional establishment Republican viewpoint.
There are some exceptions such as Kathleen Benfield, a great social conservative talk show host on WSHO, a religious station, and the talented Libertarian John Osterlind who does a show on a music station. Other than that, it is all liberal, all the time.
Surviving in this climate is only possible due to our great listeners, viewers, supporters and sponsors of the Ringside Politics TV and radio programs. In 18 years, I have had the incredible opportunity to interview 18,000 wonderful guests, who have graciously shared their stories with our audience. These guests have provided tremendous insights on countless issues and helped me clarify my positions on the pressing problems we face today.
At the very top of this impressive guest list are my talented radio all-stars who generously donate their time on a weekly basis to enlighten our audience: Chad Rogers, Publisher of The Dead Pelican, Steve Sabludowsky of Bayou Buzz, Attorneys Mitch Gibbs and Nick Varrecchio, Chris Holton of The Center for Security Policy and commentator Donna Carol Voss.
None of this would have been achievable without the backing Chris Beary, Principal Owner, Richard Tate, General Manager, and the entire staff of WGSO 990 AM. Their steadfast encouragement of my program over the years has been crucial to any success I have been able to achieve. In addition, much appreciation is also given to Ron Yager, WLAE-TV Vice President and General Manager and Jim Dotson, LAE Productions Vice President and General Manager, for their generous support of my television program.
Also, very special thanks to my longtime friend Steve Sabludowsky for faithfully featuring my columns on Bayou Buzz and co-producing with me the successful political comedy show, Politics with a Punch.
Even after 18 years, this work never gets old as every day is a new adventure. Today, during this heightened political season, it is the most exhilarating time ever to be on the air discussing the major events of the day.
To be able to express my views, explore important issues, interact with guests and listeners and try to impact the political environment in our country is the biggest honor I will ever receive.