In an interview with Chuck "Chucky T" Todd, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, in a tight and possibly impossible race for reelection, threw down some truth when asked why President Barack Obama wasn't popular in the South. After talking about the shutdown of Gulf of Mexico oil drilling after the BP accident, Landrieu added, "I'll be very very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It's been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader. It's not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It's more of a conservative place. So we've had to work a little bit harder on that."
If we lived in a wiser country during wiser times with wiser politicians, Republicans may have said, "Well, yeah, she's right. There is still a great deal of sexism and racism everywhere, but the South does have a history to deal with. Now vote for the Republican who will make everyone rich enough to not care." And that's that.
But wisdom is scarce in this filthy century we're damned to live in. Instead, Republicans are acting appalled, as if Landrieu is a whistleblower on racist whites. "That Mary Landrieu would ascribe ugly racial motivations to voters’ displeasure with the policies advanced by President Obama and her shows both how out of touch and how desperate she is. Senator Landrieu’s comments are insulting to me and to every other Louisianian," said Roger Villere, chair of the Louisiana Republican Party. It's as if he were really saying, "Oh, shit, Mary, don't tell everyone."
The Rude Pundit can guarantee you that there are very few people in Louisiana who would hear or read Landrieu's comment and not think, "Yeah, sounds about right." Unless you get your prejudices soothed by the dulling rhetoric of talk radio and Fox "news," you know the score. And if it's not you, you know at least a few people who don't like Barack Obama just because he's that uppity Negro. The Rude Pundit has mentioned someone he knows in Louisiana who won't vote Landrieu because "she's a bitch." This ain't brain surgery. Hell, it's barely even Lincoln logs in complexity.
Then again, you have tragically unpopular Gov. Bobby Jindal commenting, "Senator Landrieu's comments are remarkably divisive. She appears to be living in a different century." Are they divisive? Or are they actually shocking because Landrieu said what everyone knows but is afraid to say out loud? Why can't we do that? When it comes to race, it is unutterable unless some right-wing dickhead wants to tar Obama by saying that he's "using" race (no one ever says how white people "use" their race). Hell, the right is already pulling Obama into this. But talk about race as a factor in why so many people are passionately hateful towards Obama? Beyond the pale, man, beyond it.
The fear for Republicans is that Landrieu's remark will jolt the black population in Louisiana to get more engaged in the election. Because if that constituency shows up at the polls, it will fuck with the whole plan to take over the Senate. So you will see denigration of Landrieu and false outrage. Her pretty mild words, which simply recognize that racism and sexism exist and that they affect people's perspectives, will be blown up until it seems as if she said that Louisianians want to lynch Obama and force Landrieu back into the kitchen (although some people surely think that already).
Creepy ass Republican opponent Bill Cassidy responded to Landrieu with "We're not racist, we just have common sense." Others have called on her to apologize. Remember that Landrieu is not a wild and woolly liberal who wants to join hands with Al Sharpton and march through the French Quarter. She is firmly moderate-right, but she also takes no shit when it comes to sexism in politics and in her career. She knows of what she speaks.
Yet, by the time you read this, Landrieu may have apologized. She may have crawfished her remarks, blamed it on campaign exhaustion, or something. But let's hope not. She should end up provoking a conversation about how racism has affected the Obama presidency. In the deranged endgame of this pathetic campaign, don't count on it.
Update: When asked if she would apologize, Landrieu more or less told Republicans, "Go fuck yourselves, you racist, sexist piglets."