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Landrieu starts reelection push by misappropriating label

The rehabilitation of Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu continues apace. Despite the fact that her lifetime Congressional voting record is decidedly liberal, the 2008 campaign cannot start too early for her with her trying to create a fiction that she is a “centrist” senator.

Landrieu got the opportunity to co-lead the Senate’s centrist coalition in an ironic way. Even as Democrats like Landrieu but particularly those running for office in 2006 were claiming they had a centrist agenda, the party spurned perhaps its most centrist member of the Senate, Joseph Lieberman, forcing him to win reelection as an independent. Now officially not a Democrat, he had been the Democrat co-chairman of the group (and now is starting a related group), the position Landrieu now inherits.

In addition, Landrieu tries to hog more credit that she is entitled to have over legislation which has changed the royalty distribution for offshore oil extraction which will bring many new dollars to Louisiana. She had a hand in it, but neither was she the most important senator in its passage (that being the lead author of the bill that eventually passed, Republican Pete Domenici), but she wasn’t even the most helpful member of the Louisiana delegation in the process, that honor going to the lead author of the House version of the bill, Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal. Landrieu assisted, but let there be no doubt she was not in any way the main forces like Jindal and Domenici in getting it done.

Interestingly, one potential opponent (currently a Democrat but who knows in two years) state Treasurer John Kennedy already is stealing some of her thunder on this by promoting the idea that the relatively small initial additional royalties going into the fund expressly created to use the funds for coastal restoration be used to issue bonds backed by the fund to speed up restoration work. In essence, the new inflow of money would pay interest at first and then an increasingly-large amount of the principal as time passes and the royalties earnings grow much larger (because this applies only to new drilling). Kennedy’s idea is sound and should be pursued.

Nonetheless, she will inflate her reduced role in this matter day and night over the next two years, and anything else to blunt the fact that she has made many consequential votes out of step with Louisiana, and the country, over her decade in Washington. Quality challengers for her job will ensure in their campaigns that the public will know the mare Landrieu cannot paint moderate stripes on her liberal body and call herself a centrist zebra.

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