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Contrary to facts, Blanco still trying to rewrite history

One would think that, even in the waning days of her term, Gov. Kathleen Blanco would have more to do than try to rewrite history inaccurately. Apparently not, judged by a recent visit of hers to tour economic concerns of which she had practically nothing to do in procuring for Louisiana.

Invited to recall her time in office, Blanco offered that it was her administration’s program to offer pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds from at-risk families. In fact, the legislation to so do came in 2001, three years before she took office. More accurately, she tried to increase funding for it.

She also talked of ethics reforms she supported. And she got some passed which barely tightened up campaign finance laws, before the 2005 hurricane disasters. But after then, she testified, she had to drop the matter because other issues had become more important. Yet the Legislature had made a full-blown effort this past session that would have made sweeping ethics changes in reporting requirements. Huge majorities supported it, until Sens. Don Hines and Robert Adley used parliamentary maneuvers to put the bill into a position to be killed. Throughout, Blanco adopted a hands-off attitude that if she had forsaken and put some weight behind the bill, surely would have overcome Hines and Adley – and, having forsworn running for reelection, would have been in the perfect position to have done so, yet she remained unengaged.

She also commented that, in the state’s futile chase to land a steel mill, that as a result of her efforts “[i]t positioned us as a player. We were not players when I started. We were an afterthought.” Which shows how poor her judgment was and still is on these matters. Until Louisiana reforms its business tax structure – of which Blanco rejected such efforts such as her veto of HB 505 this past session except for the most tepid measures – and adopts sweeping ethics reforms that Blanco did not try to get passed, Louisiana almost always will be an afterthought in this regard.

But her most gross misstatements came in regards to her conduct right after and for the next couple of months after the 2005 disasters. She claims short of “immediately turning Republican,” she said she doesn't know how she could have gotten more help more quickly from the Pres. George W. Bush administration. Which shows either her memory is incredibly short or incredibly selective.

First, Blanco completely botched the process by which to request aid. Even though just a year earlier she had participated in a simulation and had a near-miss, she didn’t know how to request aid. Had she known what she was doing, immediate aid would have come more quickly.

Second, as her e-mail messages show, almost from the start she viewed the crisis through political lenses, giving way too much emphasis to the political consequences of options that prejudiced her decisions. For example, this was why she refused to allow in federal assistance earlier than it came because she feared it would make her look upstaged, so it was her own actions, not Washington’s that slowed everything down.

Third, she tried the patience of Washington, the nation’s public, and Louisiana citizens by moving slowly and insisting on doing things her way, again with an eye towards political considerations, rather than pursue the most effective solutions. For example, at first she assumed the federal government would just throw money at the state by latching onto a ridiculous $250 billion request, then by latching onto the imprudent “Baker plan,” and finally taking almost a year to come up with any plan at all, the inefficient Road Home. Even then, without proper authorization she allowed the program to reimburse for uncovered expenses, bankrupting the program.

Try as she might, Blanco cannot jawbone her way into changing the historical facts surrounding her failed governorship. Opportunities abounded and she missed many because of her captivity to a liberal, populist ideology that trusts government before the people it’s supposed to serve and looks to take from and blame others rather than doing the work itself to bring about achievement. No amount of revisionism changes these truths.

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