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Transformation of Landrieu to moderate now beginning

With 2007 election results screaming at her and a 2008 reelection date looming, look for Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu to begin defying her party and ideology over the next 11 months.

Her support for increased enforcement measures and new ones puts her in step with longtime supporter of these measures Republican Sen. David Vitter and the state itself, a refreshing change. It’s a no-brainer but rejected by most of her Democrat colleagues who don’t really care about making it more difficult on illegal immigrants and in fact want to preserve or increase benefits these non-citizens receive. Even though these preferences hurt a constituency to which Democrats pay lip service but whom, outside of its organized aspects, they do nothing for – labor – Democrats seem to think aggressive enforcement of borders and keeping benefits only for Americans and legal immigrants will hurt them in the ballot box (perhaps as they wish to make voters out of illegal immigrants).

Landrieu with few exceptions has acted contrary to Louisiana’s interests on a variety of issues from economics to foreign policy to free speech and lots of things in between. But in the last year of her term, her strategy will be to veer from the left to center to con Louisianans into thinking she is not a solid liberal. This issue may mark the start.

She will be aided by the Democrat leadership. Out of touch with America’s real needs and Americans’ real interests for decades, upon taking the Senate last year they totally misunderstood that the lesson of the 2006 elections was not a change in governing philosophy, but in execution. But thinking the former rather than the latter, they stupidly put forth dramatic policy changes in the direction of liberalism that have gone nowhere, including on the issue of illegal immigration. As the election season wears on, they will decrease such things to make their party’s candidates look more mainstream and in tune with America. This means there will be less pressure on Landrieu to cast liberal votes that will remind voters in Louisiana who she really is.

But Landrieu will succeed in winning a third term if her Republican opponents don’t expose her record. Both Vitter in 2004 and Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal this year have shown that publicizing a solid conservative record can win statewide in an open field. However, running against an incumbent, Republicans will have to take the additional step in 2008 of preventing Landrieu from pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes by showing she is just a moderate of convenience.

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