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Hypocritical Edwards should change his rhetoric

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards ought to reconsider pitching stones from his glass house.

Last week, at an annual Aspen Institute meeting, Edwards opined along with other of his party’s governors on the state of politics, in particular on the issue of divisiveness. (This same meeting last year Democrat former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu didn’t leave early when his staff implored him to return to the city as it flooded.) His words of wisdom: “Folks are just anxious. We ought not to vilify anyone.”

That’s nice, and surely “anyone” means even those Republicans who may run against him next year for his job. Except he doesn’t see it that way, by his past rhetoric.

Edwards and Sen. John Kennedy have spared verbally on many occasions, where Edwards doesn’t pull punches in accusing Kennedy of political grandstanding, including deceiving the public for political gain. To choose the most recent, concerning comments Kennedy made about re-arrests consequent to criminal justice changes backed by Edwards, the governor’s spokesman said the senator “has never been one to let facts get in the way of a good headline and routinely manipulates information to fit his narrative.”

Edwards also frequently clashes with Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry, and likewise casts aspersions on Landry’s priorities in pursuing policy as politically motivated. Recently, in regards to a Landry critique about Edwards’ nonchalant attitude towards expediting executions that led to Landry’s withdrawal in a court case about that, writing back to the attorney general he penned that Landry took “to social media to score political points. That [quitting] is using victims of crime, not supporting them.”

But perhaps his most cutting and personal attack he directed at state Sen. Sharon Hewitt. At the conclusion of the third special session this year that funded a budget that produced health care spending, both in terms of state and federal funds, twice as high as a decade earlier, she noted Medicaid spending was crowding out other priorities, putting the state in constant fiscal crisis. To which Edwards in a news conference acidly replied, “Maybe if she doesn’t want working poor people to have health care she should just say it.”

On all of these, Edwards took on blunt criticism of his preferred policy options, and we might expect some kind of rebuttal. But in each instance, he clearly vilified his political opponent.

If he doesn’t want to come off as a hypocrite, Edwards either needs to practice what he preaches in terms of political rhetoric, or he needs to stop sermonizing on the issue.

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