For anybody who cares about good public policy in Louisiana, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s first major appearance and speech in some time, with her sidelined by health issues that seem to be on the mend, demonstrates how little she is missed from the state’s top policy-making job.
Blanco took to the annual state Democrat fundraiser to complain about cuts in state government, especially in higher education, asserting that her successor Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and new GOP majorities in each legislative chamber were “intent on destroying our state's financial base” and that these reductions produced “carnage … gutting of colleges and universities that are sending higher education into the dark ages.”
Such statements also go to show that besides Blanco having been unsuitable for serving as governor neither would she be a good weight-loss counselor.
To her, an overweight person who goes on a healthy diet experiences “carnage,” her remarks indicated when compared to the facts of the situation.
Today, Louisiana higher education spends only slightly less than it did five years ago, in part due to increases Blanco, whose husband worked as a high-level administrator for decades in higher education, pushed through taking advantage of the Katrina bounce in the state’s economy. However, it is starting to use those slightly-reduced resources much more wisely. But no thanks to her, because never once did she make an effort to create a higher education structure to bring sufficient accountability in resource usage by the system that ranked as one of the highest per capita spenders in the nation with among the worst outcomes.
Never we did hear her call for streamlining a system with duplicative governance structures, duplicative (and underperforming) universities, or eliminating counterproductive practices. Instead, that was left to Jindal, a former head of the system in which Blanco’s husband worked. His efforts in these regards have not always succeeded but what changes his administration has made have given Louisiana’s higher education system the promise of better performance at lower cost to taxpayers and deserving students a better chance of success.
Because of her belief that higher education succeeds the larger it becomes and the more students it creates regardless of how well they are served, with those remarks she only comes off as a hypocrite. Finally, she also comes off as ignorant, as she conjures up imaginary “carnage” in higher education of which there is absolutely no evidence of its presence.
That Blanco remains clueless as ever came out when she also implored that elected Democrats stop the increasingly popular practice of switching to Republican allegiances. Their motives differ and in part are from political calculations. But in most instances, they left because they do not believe, if they ever did, in the harmful strain of populism slowly shriveling under the intense light of history and fact demonstrating the invalidity of the worldview on which she has based her political beliefs and career. An ideological dinosaur when she got into office eight years ago, in the present her words ring as irrelevant and disconnected from reality as they ever have been.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 12:35