Friday, January 28, 2011

Louisiana politics - as murky and misty as the bayous

A large number of the guys on this ship I'm on are from Louisiana. You get talking over supper, and eventually, the subject of politics arises. When the topic of Louisiana politics in particular comes up, it’s the stuff of legends, notorious legends to be sure.

They have a very colorful history here, and you don’t have to go back very far to sample it. One of the guys suggested I look up Edwin Edwards, so I did. He was the 50th governor of the state of Louisiana, a Roman Catholic Democrat.

On January 13th, 2011, just over two weeks ago, Edwin Edwards was released from prison. He had been sentenced to 10 years for racketeering, money laundering, extortion, etc., etc., etc.

His reputation for being on the shady side of the law was nothing new to the voters of Louisiana. His promises were many. He is famously quoted as having said, “Yes, I’m a crook, but I’m your crook.”

Confidence was something this man did not lack. When running for his second term as governor, he said to reporters, “The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy". Can you magine the reaction in Newfoundland if Danny Williams had ever said anything like that?!?! But Edwards did, and could, and the voters loved him for it. He won.

In the 1991 campaign for his fourth term as governor, Edwards found himself running against David Duke, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader. I remember hearing about this guy at the time. Republican President George H.W. Bush stated that Edwards, the Democrat, would be a better choice than Duke. Edwards, a notorious ladies’ man, won in a landslide, but not before stating of his opponent, "The only thing we have in common is that we both have been wizards beneath the sheets."

How can you not love this guy?

He may have been “their crook”, but when he left office in 1996, teacher’s pay and college and university funding was among the lowest in the United States, and high school dropout rate, teen pregnancies, welfare recipients and prison population were among the highest. I did point out that he was a Democrat. 'Nuff said.

He’s 83 years old now, divorced from but still friendly with his 44 year old former wife. Their divorce was evidently a ruse to protect assets, so I'm told. Shady to the end, this man. Enjoy your freedom and retirement, Gov. Edwards. And stay retired, please!!! Bobby Jindal's doing just fine!!!


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