Search This Blog


Differing motives separate Edwards, Landry styles

Yesterday, I compared the governing of Democrats former Pres. Barack Obama and current Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. Today, I get to compare the styles of Edwards and Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry to amplify a point further.

In the pages of The Advocate, I noted two similarities between Edwards and Obama: they both subscribed to an imperialistic view of a chief executive’s powers and they both used their offices to campaign permanently and constantly. For the latter, I gave a couple of examples where Edwards delivered criticism about a potential opponent, Landry, over issues that had nothing to do with the governor’s office: whether the state’s attorney general could initiate an investigation of potential crimes despite constitutional prohibitions on that and Landry’s joining the state with others to a dispute over the constitutionality of the (misnamed) Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Yet others I know saw irony over using incidents with Landry as an example of Edwards’ permanent campaign, because they believed Landry displayed the same penchant. No doubt Landry does publicize activities of his office as these relate to political issues of the day. For example, when last week he issued an opinion on Edwards’ powers as these relate to appointing a member of the Red River Waterway Commission, which declared a recent Edwards appointment open to legal challenge, unlike most he made a news release for it. He also held a news conference over it and reiterated its contents in a social media post today.

There’s some genuine irony in that, as Landry recently criticized social media giants and has expressed interest in committing the state to efforts challenging the market dominance of several. That controversy in and of itself could support the notion that he uses his office to campaign as does Edwards with his.

But there are crucial differences. For one, unlike Edwards, Landry doesn’t just pick something out of the air unrelated to his office and use that to attack a presumed opponent, as Edwards did when he called Landry’s explanation about why the state’s attorney general couldn’t launch an investigation on its own politically motivated. Both instances last week had something to do with Landry’s job, even if the one he publicized lodged criticism against Edwards.

Additionally, whereas Edwards sees Landry as a threat, which is why he will contrive any criticism possible of him regardless of whether the issue in question relates to his job as governor, Landry is not doing the same. That is, Landry doesn’t lash out at presumed opponents to his post, much less over anything conceivable.

Of course, no known opponent to Landry’s reelection has surfaced and he seems as safe to stay past 2019 as any statewide elected official. Not so Edwards, whom Landry seems unlikely to run against in any event but who entered office as an underdog to win reelection.

And that’s what drives Edwards’ strategy. He received confirmation of his precarious status last week with polling data showing 46 percent of likely voters would not reelect him; in the world of polling, such a figure historically has presaged trouble for an incumbent. Slowly, he finds increasingly backed into a corner, so he will lash out indiscriminately on any controversy, no matter how manufactured, at any perceived threat to another four years.

By contrast, Landry’s strategy appears about building a record. He will cruise to reelection, and any aspirations beyond that office he has time on his side. If Edwards miraculously survives for another term, Landry will have an open gubernatorial seat in five years. If another Republican wins but then stumbles in 2023 or serves through 2027, Landry, a relatively young man, can take his shot in nine years. He can afford to publicize activities critical of Edwards only as a foil, and restricted to issues (related to his duties) important to conservatives, to help other conservatives now and himself in the future.

So, Landry and Edwards might share a permanent campaigning style in their respective offices. But Landry’s seems much more legitimate, in the sense that he draws distinctions in the natural course of his duties, while Edwards’ forced approach has an air of indiscriminate desperation.

No comments: