Lt. General Russell Honoré became a folk hero after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. He provided perhaps the most memorable quote of that period, “Don’t Get Stuck On Stupid.” It was in response to a media question about the feeble early federal response to the storm to which he was the antidote. There was a whole lotta stupid going on in 2005 and just as much in 2020. It inspired me to steal General Honoré’s signature line. I only steal from the best.
I decided to appropriate Stuck on Stupid after reading the Twitter response to the election of Katie Bernhardt as the Chair of the Louisiana Democratic party. I, too, was disappointed that Lynda Woolard lost to a right-leaning oil heiress. I was not, however, surprised. New Orleans is a deep blue spot in a deep red state. Some keyboard warriors don’t seem to get that. Making matters worse was how many on the performative left decided to “honor” Lynda by switching their registration from Democratic to Independent. I don’t know Lynda well, but I doubt that she feels honored by these declarations of purity.
I moved to the Gret Stet of Louisiana in the 1980’s. I had no illusions about the nature of the state party. I am now and have always been a national Democrat. I identify with Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama, not Huey Long and Edwin Edwards. The Louisiana Democratic party has been terrible since I moved here and blew a golden opportunity to improve by picking Bernhardt, not Woolard. The choice was mischaracterized as one between moderates/conservatives and progressives/liberals. Instead it was a choice between a fundraiser and an organizer. And it was driven more by power than ideology. Unfortunately, insularity, family connections, and fear and loathing of New Orleans seem to have triumphed. None of this is surprising. The state party has been stuck on stupid since time immemorial. That’s why I’m a national Democrat, not a Louisiana Democrat.
Also stuck on either stupid or arrogant is New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. I’ve tried my best to support the Mayor, but she makes it hard. She has a knack of making ill-considered and intemperate remarks. Her pre-pandemic performance verged on the disastrous, especially her erratic handling of the Hard Rock Hotel fiasco. There was a lot of talk and little action.
The pandemic threw Cantrell a tenuous political lifeline. Initially, her performance drew rave reviews, but as pandemic fatigue set in, her grip on the pulse of the electorate weakened. Frustrated by reports of non-compliance with the city’s COVID restrictions, the Mayor reverted to making ill-considered comments as captured by Picvocate reporters Jeff Adleson and Emma Discher:
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she’s looking into ways to strip people of unemployment benefits if they violate city rules against large gatherings.
Cantrell, responding to a question about large gatherings on Bourbon Street over the weekend, said on Thursday she has asked city officials to issue citations and research whether the penalties could include revoking the payments that many have relied on as a wave of layoffs and business closures have rocked the city during the pandemic.
“It’s my opinion you can’t receive public resources but at the same time violate public mandates to keep people safe,” Cantrell said.
It was not immediately clear whether such punishment would be possible.
A reminder that Cantrell ran as a progressive in 2017. This sounds like something a right-wing politician would say about the “undeserving poor.” Since the majority of the maskless scofflaws were on Bourbon Street, it made the Mayor sound ignorant about the city she governs. The majority of New Orleanians wouldn’t be caught dead on a restaurant-less Bourbon Street on a Saturday night. Most of the scofflaws were tourists drawn to our city by the dubious allure of Bourbon Street. And no one should be threatened with loss of their livelihood during the Second Great Depression even if they’re stuck on stupid.
Mayor Cantrell needs to get a grip and think before speaking. Former Gambit editor Kevin Allman nailed it:
I can’t top that, y’all.
Someone else who is stuck on stupid is former Picvocate pundit Dan Fagan. I wrote about Fagan with an A in July; declaring him a mask warrior. Fagan quit the Picvocate a few weeks back. Since his return to The Hayride, he’s done a lot of moaning, whining, and griping much like the man he so admires, the Impeached Insult Comedian. Ain’t nothing worse than a fake tough guy.
In his first Hayride column after three years as the Advocate’s house wingnut, Fagan struck a heroic pose and commenced whining:
On Wednesday, I sent Peter Kovacs, editor of The Advocate/Times-Picayune, an email resigning my position as a columnist for the paper. I had written for it for three years.
I told Kovacs it had become clear in recent weeks that my worldview was so drastically different from the one the editorial page promotes; I no longer believe our relationship was plausible.
It seems that Fagan doesn’t understand the difference between the editorial page and the op-ed page. One can write columns for a newspaper and disagree with their editorial policies. The New York Times has a stable of conservative pundits as does the Washington Post. They are not required to tow the party line, instead their role is to provide diversity of opinion. Here’s how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Op-ed: “a page of special features usually opposite the editorial page of a newspaper also : a feature on such a page.”
Fagan blames his Picvocate exit on leftist editors and staffers. He even blasted its readership:
The readership of The Advocate/Times-Picayune tilts decidedly left. Leftists typically don’t like dissent. They are not free-speech advocates and they hate anyone who offers views opposite of the ones to which they are emotionally attached. Leftists don’t rely on logic or reason when forming opinions. They arrive at their conclusions based on what makes them feel good, superior, and virtuous.
I’m a subscriber who is a liberal, not a leftist. The Picvocate has many conservative readers. I guess Fagan has never read the comments on one of Stephanie Grace’s columns. Those comments tilt right, not left but that doesn’t fit Fagan’s narrative. Besides, all you have to do is replace leftist with conservative and you have a description of Fagan himself. Trumpers are big on projection.
One reason many Picvocate readers hated Dan Fagan is that he cannot write. He’s only marginally more literate than his hero President* Pennywise. He’s no George Will or William Safire. They were never stuck on stupid. Dan Fagan is. He’s back where he belongs: in the echo chamber that is The Hayride.
I write this as Sally bears down on the Gret Stet of Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The last thing we needed was a storm in SELA after Laura smacked SWLA upside the head and devastated Lake Charles. Here’s hoping that the trend toward Tater Tot state continues, but wherever it lands it’s going to be wet. Be careful out there and whatever you do, don’t get stuck on stupid.
The last word is dedicated to Dan Fagan’s return to the friendly confines of The Hayride. He’s in a safe place and can once again be Stupidly Happy.