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Landrieu debate flubs open door for Kennedy surge

It’s very hard for a political candidate to “win” a debate, to stand out so demonstrably better than opponents by their own volition. It is much easier for them to “lose” a debate because by their responses candidates can set themselves up to look inconsistent, hypocritical, uniformed, belligerent, or just plain un-statesmanlike. Nobody is impressed when candidates avoid these things, but it makes a negative impression when they can’t. Tonight, Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu lost her debate with Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy to retain her seat, and lost it badly.

(But before explaining why, applause must go to the six television reporters from five outlets across the state who posed the questions and moderated. The questions mostly were tough and these journalists were fair but firm in trying to get the candidates to actually answer them instead of them answering unasked questions that candidates typically prefer to do. It was the most informative and entertaining debate I have ever witnessed.)

Both candidates held up decently well, although perhaps coming off as too keen to score points on each other, until Landrieu was questioned on the extremely fishy timing of her championing legislation for a certain interest at about the same time that interest held a fundraiser for her. She lost her composure through little more than lecturing the questioning reporter in a self-righteous fashion that never addressed his question about whether the timing looked bad, as if she were frantically trying to cover something up.

It got worse for her on the next question concerning privatization of Social Security funds. After Landrieu said she had never considered supporting that because it was too risky, Kennedy explained competently his position that he would allow it voluntarily for new system entrants and then coolly produced a 1999 article where Landrieu said she thought it was time to consider this “risky” alternative (he could also have used this more recent article). Flustered, she claimed she didn’t remember saying that, thus destroying the main theme lying behind many of her previous comments that her effectiveness and competence made her the better choice; anyone who claimed she could not remember or even doubted she had said a direct quote from a news story on an important issue that contradicted her supposedly rock-solid issue preference would raise doubts about her suitability in any objective observer.

For the rest of the debate, Landrieu came across as combative and more interested in tearing down Kennedy than presenting solutions, and her assertions about her past achievements framed by these previous incidents made her look more like a self-aggrandizer than somebody with credentials. The rout was completed when, on a question asking Kennedy to definitively state his policy preference for abortion and one to Landrieu to explain why as a Catholic she supported many kinds of abortion, Landrieu answered in a legalistic way that the common man would call “weasel words” and Kennedy spoke from the heart about how the entrance into his life of his son made him pro-life except when the mother’s life was endangered. The contrast could not have reflected more badly on her.

But the question is, does this mean anything in the scope of the larger campaign? We political scientists long ago learned most people who watch these debates (other than political scientists themselves) either already are intense supporters of one candidate or they are truly undecided and interested. Either way, they aren’t large in numbers. Her disastrous showing will filter out to reach additional voters from those who watched, but unless this is a very close race, it won’t matter.

It can matter more if Kennedy’s campaign runs with it. A few key snippets here and there of it woven into a quality ad plastered around the state’s airwaves during the last week of the contest could give a significant boost to his fortunes Holding a several percentage point advantage (as best could be told) going into the affair, Landrieu opened the door for Kennedy to eat into that by her performance. Now we’ll see whether he can.


Anonymous said...


This must be the latest Sadow journal article, forthcoming in the Journal of Contemporary Fairytales.

A joke of an academic propping up a joke of a Conservative.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, do you know why you're stuck at LSUS as an adjunct professor of PoliSci, despite all of your years of experience and your ability to pimp yourself out as a novelty act to newspapers?

It's because you're a HACK.

You give yourself away in your postings. You're not a "scientist." You write like an intellectually insecure kiss-ass partisan who just wants validation, not as a serious academic. That's why you can't move up the ranks. You're not objective. You're a reactionary ideologue. You're not a real scholar. You're consistently intellectually dishonest.

Kennedy tried to attack Landrieu for a Times-Pic quote from 1999, back when Clinton was President and the economy was strong. Way back in 1999, when Kennedy was a liberal Democrat and supported those same policies, and you think Kennedy bringing this up underscores Landrieu's hypocrisy?

Give Louisiana a break, Jeff. I hope the newspapers don't pay you for your interviews, because if so, they're wasting their money.

Oh but here's my favorite part:

"But the question is, does this mean anything in the scope of the larger campaign? We political scientists long ago learned most people who watch these debates (other than political scientists themselves) either already are intense supporters of one candidate or they are truly undecided and interested. Either way, they aren’t large in numbers. Her disastrous showing will filter out to reach additional voters from those who watched, but unless this is a very close race, it won’t matter."

You can't act like you're a disinterested "scientist" when you're interpreting all of this through the lens of a Republican political hack.

You are an embarrassment to your department. You do not belong in the classroom. You're not objective or honest.

You should live your passion and become a professional campaign hack. The pay's much better, and you wouldn't have to lamely compartmentalize your life or be forced to constantly defend your contradictions.

In referring to someone who is more of a self-aggrandizer than someone with real credentials, I can think of no better example than Jeffrey Sadow, especially because he thinks the same label can be applied to a sitting United States Senator.

Jeff, you're not nearly as smart or clever as you think you are. Most of our great professors enjoy support from across the state. You're not a great professor, and the only people who support you are those extreme partisans that you prop up with your faux-scholarship/ opinion pieces framed as scholarship.

I dare you to get a real job.

Anonymous said...

What bravery an anonymous handle can inspire. If you're going to beat someone within an inch of his professional life, you should really have the fortitude to post your name.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the frightening things that can fly out of the mouths of the hidden! Anonymous, you are the epitome of courage, gotta hand it to you! Typical leftist drivel: no one is entitiled to an opinion, and if you can't shut them up try to demolish them. The fact is Sadow is highly regarded and makes no pretense of his ideology but his honest about it. I am especially impressed that he is willing to sign his name to his opinions--a bold act if there ever was one. Anonymous, grow up and find an identity, you sad little child.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't post anonymously, but I wonder who regards him highly? He's decent as a partisan hack who regularly cloaks himself with his academic credentials. And that's the problem. He disguises partisan political opinion as academic wisdom.

Fortunately, he regularly shows himself as merely a tempest in a teapot with a bee in his bonnet.

Kent Payne

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I've never been to your blog before so I have no ability to filter your observations thru a knowledge of your past writings... Further I did not see the debate.

But having seen the replies to this post I think it is abundantly clear Landrieu lost and lost badly.

The behavior of her (petty and childlike) supports this morning tells me it must have been a clean kill for Mr. Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, anon, the bee has now flown into YOUR bonnet. But you may be right about Landrieu. Her conservatism does cause her some difficulties at times. I'll be glad when we get more liberals in power. And that is going to happen more and more as voters see the train wreck that conservatives are causing.

Anonymous said...


You can tell how successful a post is by the amount of venom that spews forth from the spineless scum and other idiots. landrieu blew it and her campaign staff was issuing "clarifications" almost immediately.


Anonymous said...

I don't visit this blog often, so I won't profess to know all that you have written before. But I agree with the earlier comments regarding your political commentary: your role as a "political scientist" and professor at our state university does present issues for you as a credible voice in the public forum. I am sure you have covered those issues time and time again, but wouldn't it be a little easier to come clean with you readers...and your students. I am anonymous and I approved this message.

Anonymous said...

I thank you for Swimming with the Sharks. I was beginning to think all "academicians" were the liberal, socialist left. However, one seems to have slipped thru the net. Thank You. I would count the crude attacks to measure your success.

Jeff Sadow said...

>>stuck at LSUS as an adjunct professor

If it wasn't already obvious from the content of your posted comments, your powers of observation need work. Read my bio at the top of the blog, I'm at the associate level, full-time and tenured, my work cited in articles and books about Louisiana politics, ready as long as I continue to enjoy it to "corrupt" the youth of Louisiana ...

Anonymous said...

I am afraid your desire for Kennedy to win has clouded your judgment. This debate didn't stir a lot of interest. Also it wasn't like Kennedy didn't do his share of avoiding questions.

Anonymous said...


You've done it again! You can always tell when you've scored a direct hit on a liberal by the way their supporters descend like vultures on a three day old carcas! LOL! Keep up the good work. Landrieu's ability to retain her seat will once agian turn on her ability to get teh residents of the voter plantaion of New Orleans to turn out en masse--living or otherwise. Hopefull the righteous will prevail. Kennedy is a decent man and a good candidate--certainly not the lightning rod of the type we've previsouly seen run against Landrieu. IF we are forced to weather an Obama Presidency, we desperately need more republican senators to block Obama's liberal appointees to the Supreme Court.
Again, Kudos Jeff--you are the "RightReason"...

Brad Duhe (UNO'90)

Anonymous said...

Right on! Its beyond the emotion-based secular socialist to accept reality..sometimes they lose, its happens, get over it... Mary (can't use my husband's name and bus people to vote with filled-in ballots) Landrieu...Is that the same Mary that arranges to have her vote changed from her true beliefs because they have enough demo votes for certain issues? Then she can claim she was "independent"...ha ha...
Go home wife and I will never vote for a liberal liar...enough of those in D.C. now...its pitiful when you cast 150 liberal votes and 4 or 5 that are not (arranged because not needed to pass)...and run on the 4 or 5! Depend on libs for profanity, personal attacks and distractions...its what they do.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Sadow, you need only to look at the responses of your defenders to understand why objective observers find you to be inauthentic and anti-intellectual.

Your defenders would rather talk about a woman's decision not to take her husband's surname, as if it is some subversive action, than discuss how their candidate completely and totally changed his entire political ideology OVER NIGHT.


Congrats Jeff. People only quote you because you're a publicly-financed novelty act,

Anonymous said...


I don't know what cave or cone of silence all these Sadow critics reside in. To any reasonably objective observer of the college professorship scene, it is clearly the exact opposite of what they claim. Please note that all of the former Weather Underground members who didn't blow themselves up (not just Ayers) are tenured professors in good standing. I think I had one maybe 2 semi-conservative professors my college years, and those guys would run from the word "conservative," preferring the safer "moderate" banner.

The fact that people claim Sadow is anti-intellectual or got his job due to Jindal is one of the most absurd things I have ever read.

You accusers are the ones that don't have original ideas, resort to ad hominem attacks, distort the truth at every turn, only support the first amendment when it supports your cause, and all sound like you read the democrat talking points every morning. It's amazing the amount of message discipline you hear from the left these days, i.e. facism (and a corresponding lack of history and perspective). To every question or issue comes the nearly identical, unimaginative response.

One of my biggest pet peeves, and it holds up quite well as a stereotype, is that those who most vocally and personally attack conservatives (rather than attempt debate or constructive criticism), appear to believe that just by doing so they are so smart, superior, hip, etc., when they are in fact, in almost every case some of the stupidest, laziest, unimaginative, humorless, unhappy people I have ever met. Most of them sit around fantasizing about an impossible socialist utopia (failing to understand mankind's true condition) and their sole joy in life appears to be that next bong hit.

Again, academia is the exact opposite of what these morons claim, and everybody knows it. Conservatives or simply people who don't drink the hate America, Marxist kool-aid are the ones that can't get jobs in journalism and academia. They are the ones who are systematically shut out.

Obama has never published one paper, yet he was Editor in chief of the Harvard law review. That is a precedent. He was given an esteemed professorship in Con law and has never been published. That's one reason why nobody has a clue what he really believes - he has smartly left almost no paper trail. Lastly, one of the worst professors at my college was a young, smug, black woman from California, who was very clearly hired solely because she was a liberal, black, woman (in that order). It was funny to overhear some long tenured liberal professors react with disgust to the fact that she was being paid twice what they were.

In summary, keep up the good work. You are a voice in the wilderness. I wish I would have had the pleasure of one professor with a right of center viewpoint.