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Rhymes with Mayhem

Local Politics

December 9th, 2009  6 Comments

In a moment bereft of charity, I once called local Republican consultant Mike Bayham “dumber than a sack of wet hair”. This insult pertained to his hopeful analysis about Peggy Wilson’s (nonexistent) chance to make the runoff in the mayoral election of 2006. Though Peggy missed the runoff by a country mile, Bayham was undeterred. Shortly thereafter, he began militating for Ray Nagin’s re-election over Mitch Landrieu. And bingo, Nagin won. After that, Bayham ran for a state House seat and lost. Then last year Bayham predicted his man McCain would beat Obama, and that didn’t quite happen. So Bayham prudently decided to lay low for a while. But then the 2009 football season commenced, and Bayham began posting regularly on Saints football. His weekly Saints analysis was surprisingly sophisticated and informed. Last week I even went over to praise Bayham’s commentary regarding his preview of the Redskins game. All good in da hood, right?

Not so fast.

The news that Mitch Landrieu would run for Mayor broke two nights ago and Bayham had to go and post about it., That instantly spoiled the whole Kumbaya moment for me, because it’s impossible for Bayham to comment on Mitch Landrieu without reminding me of the hideous conservative Republican effort to re-elect Nagin over Landrieu in 2006. I investigated these machinations while they were occurring in posts titled “So dark the con of…” and “State GOP gamesmanship uber alles!” Also: here and here, and read Adrastos here.

Basically, in sum:

As New Orleans suffered from the biggest disaster in U.S. history, the [Greater New Orleans Republicans and like-minded others were] focused on removing any political obstacle for their golden boy [Bobby Jindal who planned a run for Guv in 07]; and if that meant New Orleans had to re-elect an incompetent laughingstock, so be it.
For me, the conservative Republican “strategic” support for Nagin in 2006 went beyond politics. As a resident of the city, and as a New Orleanian whose home was destroyed by the Federal Flood, I’m still positively seething about this gamesmanship. So now four years later, Bayham— who was one of the leaders of the “strategic” conservative effort to support Nagin— explains why he now thinks Landrieu enters the 2010 race from a position of strength. Given Bayham’s track record in prognostication, his current optimism about Landrieu is probably a bad indicator for Mitch. But I want to focus on one of the particular advantages Bayham sees for Landrieu this time around. Now, Bayham says
[t]he Republican-machiavellian angle is no longer there.
Well, isn’t that interesting! It’s nice that a former “Greater New Orleans Republican” publicly admits it, four years after the fact. Please tell us more about this highly strategic “Republican-machiavellian angle” that came into play in 2006 but isn’t here today. For years I’ve been searching for a cogent conservative argument to support Nagin in 2006, and never found one that held water. What say you now, Bayham?
Four years ago, a Landrieu victory for mayor would have given then-Governor Kathleen Blanco an ally in the parish a Democratic candidate must carry overwhelmingly to win statewide.
No, no, no! That’s not the way to go because Bayham already made the following claim in support of Nagin’s 2006 effort:
The election of Mitch Landrieu as Mayor would allow Governor Blanco to appoint what is likely to be the Democratic Party’s 2007 candidate for governor (there’s no chance Kathleen is running again).
Again, before we proceed, let’s review the context: New Orleans was recovering from the worst man-made disaster in American history, and was holding a crucially important mayoral election. The issues (recovery, crime, flood protection) were enormous, and the stakes were huge. So now, according to one of its proponents, the “GOP-Macchiavellian angle” involved casting a vote for Nagin so that Governor Blanco wouldn’t have a strong ally in Orleans parish. Pretty lofty perspective, there? Let’s see how Bayham fleshes out his argument. (Keep in mind the above statement from 2006):
When Nagin, an avowed enemy of Blanco, was returned to office, there was little chance of Blanco running for re-election, thus eliminating an obstacle to Jindal’s bid to win over north Louisiana.

It’s obvious that Bayham can’t even keep his bullsh-t strategic reasons straight, but let’s try to get this argument crystal clear.  For the record: according to Bayham, the GOP angle in 06 was to support Nagin in the most important election in New Orleans history because he didn’t like Blanco and wouldn’t use his mighty endorsement power to boost turnout for her the following year, when she ran for re-election. Therefore, if Nagin were re-elected, Jindal would have an easier time accruing a winning margin in north Louisiana. Got it? One more time: according to Bayham, the political reasoning behind the GOP’s campaign to re-elect Nagin in 06 was to remove “an obstacle” for Bobby Jindal while he campaigned in North Louisiana the following year.

Wow. For everyone who has suffered from the Federal Flood and from the post-flood spike in violent crime, and for everyone who has ever been frustrated by Nagin’s leadership, and his administration’s corruption, and his appointment of Recovery Czar Ed Blakely, and his insistence on keeping Police Chief Riley… don’t despair! It was all worth it because re-electing Nagin made Bobby Jindal’s subsequent gubernatorial campaign in north Louisiana less… stressful. You’ll recall that in 2007 Jindal ran against an inarticulate former Republican wielding a box of Tide detergent (Boasso), and against a rich Independent businessman who spent millions of dollars and could barely inspire people to yawn (Georges). Neither had the electoral muscle to push Jindal into a runoff. But thank goodness New Orleans re-elected Nagin the previous year, so Jindal’s electoral walk could be even easier (in the minds of local conservatives).

Does it get more dastardly or degenerate than that? Isn’t that what you want from a state party during a time of life-and-death crisis: macchiavellian political maneuvers against your home city so that Golden Boy Jindal doesn’t have to perspire a year later when he campaigns in north f-cking Louisiana? Isn’t that so damn special that you just want to bake these “principled” Nagin-conservatives a cake?

Granted, Bayham was correct in 2006 when he said Blanco wouldn’t run for re-election, so his current explanation about electing Nagin to discourage Blanco from running again doesn’t square with what he previously said. Either way, it’s still all about state political party maneuvering. The conservative reasoning to support Nagin in 06 still doesn’t make sense (it never will), but I’m glad to see one of the participants finally publicly admitting that there was a “macchiavellian angle” in play in the most important mayoral election in New Orleans history. And boy did they play the hell out of it. Sure hindsight is easy, and the choice in 06 wasn’t as stark as it seems now. Not all local conservatives voted strategically for Nagin. But many did, and deep down they knew they were hurting New Orleans in hopes of strengthening their state political party. I mean, just look at their alleged “reasons” for supporting Nagin; they’re too stupid to be serious.


Mitch wore "full makeup" while saving people from the floodwaters! (A lie)

Mitch Landrieu spent too much money renovating his office! (Huh?)

Mitch Landrieu comes from a political family we just know is corrupt but (even if a reward is offered) we can't specify how.

Mitch hasn't experienced a $100 billion lesson in failure like Nagin. (Stupidest reason ever. I'm sure they'll be using the same reasoning to support Obama's re-election. Not.)

Mitch has the DNC working for him!! (Another lie.)

Mitch won't be mayor long/Mitch will be mayor too long!

Mitch will rebuild the projects and destroy the city! (even though the utterly nonpartisan HUD controls the Housing Authority of N.O.).

Mitch has weird hair! (Kill me now.)


To most conservatives, Ray Nagin showed incompetent leadership during the storm’s approach and after the Federal Flood. They interpreted the “Chocolate City” speech on MLK day as racist. Worse, Nagin was the only one in the 06 mayor’s race who showed total loyalty to his ineffectual police chief; the same chief who confiscated people’s guns after Katrina/FF and who couldn’t stop violent crime from surging back in New Orleans (making this catastrophe zone one of the bloodiest cities in the entire world). But all those sins were easily forgiven, because the alternative was Landrieu, and conservatives wanted to make sure Jindal had an easy gubernatorial election experience.

What the hell were they thinking? Did these Republicans see a black mayor who had trouble getting black people on buses during crunch time and think “Hmmm, this incompetence might be useful to Bobby Jindal in the future! Damn our principles and the ramifications to the stricken city of New Orleans, let’s get behind Nagin!”

Seriously, it must’ve been something along those lines. And now Nagin is taking trips to Mexico while the city’s budget is in crisis, and Nagin’s former right hand man Greg Meffert is in federal court facing serious prison time, and Nagin’s recovery czar Ed Blakely is insulting the city from foreign lands, and everyone who is running to replace Nagin has promised to find a new police chief.

Heckuva job, you conservative Republican hacks. And please don’t act like you sincerely thought, deep down, that Nagin was the best choice. You couldn’t hardly keep a straight face when you were making your “case” back in 2006. You claimed that Landrieu was too liberal and too beholden to the politics of the past, and then you joined Dollar Bill Jefferson and Cleo Fields in endorsing Nagin, voted for him, and then watched him celebrate his victory with Jesse Jackson and Maxine Waters. New Orleans conservatives represented a decisive swing vote in the crucial 06 election, and too many of them— like Mike Bayham and Rob Couhig— decided to conjure up the most ridiculous, cockamamie “reasons” to support someone who they thought, deep down, was an incompetent laughingstock. They swung to Nagin, and the rest is history.

 I’m also convinced this tactical, “macchiavellian” political sabotage reached to the top. I’m saying I think Karl Rove approved this maneuver, and national GOP party elements funded the anti-Mitch campaign (radio ads, mailers, internet coordination…). One day I endeavor to prove this.

Greater New Orleans Republicans and fellow travellers: I call on you to gaze upon the tripartite splendor of your work: Nagin, Blakely, Riley. Where would New Orleans be without this blessed trinity? If the dreaded Mitch Landrieu had been elected, none of these Disaster Masters would’ve been here. Then where would we be in our recovery?

I’m just curious. Where do y’all draw the line on this stuff, anyway? Is there a time when you won’t play a political angle? If you’ll sabotage New Orleans after a catastrophe, what else will you do? I’d like to know. For example, would you throw a bag of kittens on to the interstate if it would remove an obstacle from Bobby Jindal’s next re-election bid? Maybe that’s too easy. Say your mother was in an ICU bed and Edwin Edwards was on furlough and feeling a bit, um, anxious. If it would remove an obstacle from Bobby’s plan to run for President would you let the Silver Fox… Never mind, that’s too dark. Even for me. But honestly, after y’all sabotaged flooded-ravaged New Orleans in the name of state party gamesmanship, I don’t know where y’all can draw the line.

And now The Greater New Orleans Republicans, which was the organizational front for the “macchiavellian” Pro-Nagin movement is a shell of its former self. The damage is done. Their web site is down, and their former chairperson Audra Shay is taking diversity lessons after her controversial election to the presidency of the national Young Republicans group. As I mentioned, Bayham is doing a lot of fine online Saints commentary, and I’ll get to that in a second, but I want to dig out one more quote from his recent post about Mitch Landrieu:

Finally, there is the “I Told You So” factor, something that cannot be underestimated and cuts across party and racial lines. …

As ironic as this statement might be… nobody has done a better job preparing the political environment for a Landrieu mayoral bid than the outgoing mayor.
Don’t give Nagin all the credit, Mike. You had a hand in that, too. So enough politics, I wonder what it is about this Saints team that Bayham appreciates the most: Is it the competent leadership of the team? Or is it the hard work they do and how the role players (think of them as crucial swing voters) step up in crunch time to carry the day? Also, given the high stakes this year, it’s nice that there isn’t any internecine warfare within the organization, right? Also, it’s nice that the team stays focused on the game at hand, and isn’t distracted by distant goals that they might achieve next season? All in all, it’s wonderful how the TEAM came together in the years following the Federal Flood. They’ve avoided making the selfish, destructive mistakes that might cripple their franchise for years to come. Alright, with all that blame and past ugliness off our chest, let’s move on to this year’s mayoral race.

Tags: filter


  •   GentillyGirl     0   Posted 2125 days ago 

    Go for the Gold Darlin'.

  •   bayoustjohndavid     0   Posted 2125 days ago 

    I’m also convinced this tactical, “macchiavellian” political sabotage reached to the top. I’m saying I think Karl Rove approved this maneuver, and national GOP party elements funded the anti-Mitch campaign (radio ads, mailers, internet coordination…). One day I endeavor to prove this.

    WTF, Oyster? I told everybody how to almost prove it at the start of this post a week after the election. Jeff Crouere was still listed on the GNOR website at the time (albeit as a former officer), so it can be assumed that he knew what he was talking about when he said that the White House let the Greater New Orleans Republicans know that Nagin was their candidate. If anybody does still have access to WGNO's 3 and a half year film archives, he said soon after they called the race for Nagin, I believe about 10:30. It's probably too late now.

    BTW, before the election I pointed out several times on my blog and once in a comment at Polimom's that it appeared that the White House was trying to re-elect Nagin. I even mentioned Rove in the Polimom comment. For the record, I actually started speculating national GOP involvement before you and Adrastos started talking about state GOP involvement. I really did. Of course, I also had to admit that it was just speculation, but speculation based on known facts and observable behavior -- e.g. first week of runoff Bush makes an appearance with Nagin to calm white voters in New Orleans while Alphonso Jackson makes statements in Houston to keep the evacuee vote angry and motivated.

    I am a little embarrassed that the only motivation that I could come up with for national GOP involvement was Katrina as an issue in the Fall 2006 congressional elections -- better to have a New Orleans mayor who blamed Blanco in Baton Rouge than one who blamed Bush in Washington. That would have been motivation enough, I suppose, but I was so naive in my innocent early days as a blogger that I didn't even think about the fact that it would be advantageous to have a mayor who say nothing about no-bid contracts for Katrina reconstruction being awarded in Washington as long as his cronies got fat subcontracts in New Orleans.

  •   oyster     0   Posted 2124 days ago 


    Let me just say at the outset that the posts that go up at the Filter are not as polished or as edited as I'd like.

    I certainly didn't mean for that claim about the White House's involvement in the election to sound like an original insight. I'll fully credit you and Jeff Crouere, and Clancy Dubos for the analysis and reporting on the matter.

    But the full story hasn't hardly been told. Rove's motives, for example. Where the funding came from. Who knew about it, Nagin's role... etc.

    That there was an organized campaign is obvious, and the reports of WH involvement have been out there, but I guess what I meant to say was one day I intend to find out the real story (and I have a possible way to do this).

  •   skooks     0   Posted 2124 days ago 

    Surely both of you are familiar with this Salon article:

  •   bayoustjohndavid     0   Posted 2122 days ago 

    Yeah, Skooks, that's another thing they stole from me. Just kidding, but I wondered what took so long when the story finally appeared. When I saw Nagin shift to blaming everything on Blanco when he appeared on "Meet the Press" (two Sundays after Katrina, Sept. 11, 2005 -- I guess) I just knew the White House had gotten to him and wondered if the idiot was familiar with the phrase "divide and conquer." Turns out, Nagin wasn't such an idiot because it worked well for him personally, just terribly for the city and state. But, I certainly wouldn't claim that was my unique insight.

    Oyster, I'm afraid you misunderstood me about Crouere. I suspect he committed a gaffe, in the accidentally telling the truth sense of the word, when he said that about the White House and the GNOR. Unless you're aware of him saying something that I'm not, I don't what there is to credit him with.

    There were two reason for my WTF? reaction. I think the first one's totally legitimate. At least a half dozen times, either on my blog or in comments on other blogs, I've asked if anybody knew how to find videotape of channel 26's election coverage because Crouere's statement would be hard to explain away. I'm 100% confident of my memory of what he said because I was struck my his use of the phrase "Greater New Orleans Republicans" -- I didn't even know what the GNOR was until after the election. So the suggestion stands, if it's even possible to find tape of channel 26's election coverage, you won't exactly have a smoking gun, but you'll have something that would be difficult to explain away.

    Since "I said it first" reactions are always gauche, I should probably just blame that part of my earlier comment on being tired and cranky from exams -- taking night courses while working full time puts a bit of wear and tear on a middle-aged body. But, sorry, when I got to the Karl Rove part of your post, I thought we were one person shy of an old Gilligan's Island routine. Professor, Skipper and Mr. Howell are discussing some serious problem, Gilligan keeps pointing the really important thing they're overlooking, the other three have a big Eureka moment when one of them finally notices what Gilligan's been trying to point out all along (alternate version ends with Skipper demanding "Why didn't you tell me..."). I mean, I did make comments on both of your blogs saying that it seemed like the effort to re-elect Nagin went above the state GOP and I stated at my blog that I was sure that the White House was trying to re-elect Nagin. Still, it was a gauche reaction, but, I think, an understandable one.

    Now that I read your YRHT post and am reminded that Clancy DuBos mentioned White House involvement, I feel a little less like Gilligan -- after all, DuBos didn't write that until a couple of weeks after the election. Of course, we're no longer one person shy of the routine.

  •   oyster     0   Posted 2121 days ago 

    While I didn't see Crouere say that on election night, I would say that I'm reasonably sure that it wasn't a gaffe. We've been around and around on this point before, over the years, and I think you may be reading a too much into Crouere's role in this.

    Crouere has discussed this many times on his radio show, and he has consistently disagreed with his "friends" who were part of the pro-Nagin/anti-Mitch effort. He has never wavered, and never covered for them in a way that would minimize their role.

    Now, I haven't heard him get pressed on this issue, in depth, to see how much he really knows, either. I should've been more straightforward in the post, and just declared: the White House was involved according to local sources. But as I said, there's more to the story, and I do intend to uncover as much as I can of it.

    But I'd just say that I don't think Crouere meant to be an active participant in these shenanigans, or to send cues to the GNOR with his comments he made during his tv analysis.