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Landrieu showing she's on her way to a Senate exit

Slowly but surely, Sen. Mary Landrieu continues to become more marginalized, and thus more shrill, as her power begins seeping away.

She knows the math as well as anybody else – in the Southern state which perhaps has better bucked the Republican trend than any other, its gradual drift towards a Republican majority suddenly got a good push from Hurricane Katrina, as those likely to have left the state disproportionately would have been future Democrat voters. In both 1996 and 2002 she won Orleans Parish, by an average of 90,000 votes, where her final margins were in the neighborhood of 6,000 and 42,000, respectively. That buffer is more than gone.

Further, Louisiana’s federal elected Republicans and their national legislative leaders who control Congress have shunted her to the side now that they have one of their own, Sen. David Vitter, as a headliner to work through in the Senate. Thus, reconstruction efforts after the hurricanes can be structured to make Vitter look good and remove Landrieu from any taking of credit. Indeed, her bickering and obstructionism that delayed the $750 million loan to help local governments keep afloat smacked of the same dogmatism that cost Democrat Max Cleland his Senate seat in 2002.

Were Landrieu truly a centrist, she might act gracefully in the light of this and thus have a shot at reelection in 2008. But she’s a liberal at heart whose strategy, in absence of an ideology she shares with the Louisiana public, is to attack, and increasingly she continues to spout nonsense that only serves as the shovel she continues to dig with more deeply the hole she’s in.

She criticizes a guy who has real power in the Senate to determine what kind of aid Louisiana gets when he voices his concern over to what uses aid allocated to Louisiana goes, and the best rejoinder she can come up with is an example that backfires on her – the recent engineered indictment of House Majority Leader Republican Tom DeLay by a corrupt Democrat. And she stays on the same Pres. George W. Bush-bashing that has been so thoroughly discredited while obscuring her own culpability in setting up the conditions for the disaster.

But she stoops to a new low when she starts criticizing the American Red Cross. While she may be accustomed to thinking that government ought to control everything, somebody needs to tell her that the Red Cross is a nonprofit agency, not part of the government. Through the goodness of their hearts its volunteers and donors are providing assistance. They don’t have to.

FEMA does contract the Red Cross as one of its three non-federal primary response agencies for disasters, which means it holds the final authority in this area. So if Landrieu wants to keep trying to deflect blame from herself, the least she can do is stay on message criticizing FEMA and not start beating up on a charity.

Her reactions continue to show that, while she’s only halfway through her term, she knows full well her days in the Senate are numbered.

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