Landrieu's no good, very bad final debate as Louisiana Senator

How can we tell that this was a bad final appearance in an embarrassing effort for Mary Landrieu? Normally when a debate takes place, the organizations created to support the partisans engage heavily in social media in an attempt to amplify the “gotcha” lines. Last night, Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein noticed a kind of hush all over the Democratic world:


Actually, the DSCC isn’t invested in the race, at least not in a literal sense. They announced shortly after the midterms that they wouldn’t spend any money in Louisiana in support of the incumbent Senator, triggering an avalanche of criticism from fellow Democrats. A day later, they offered to help organize a “moneybomb” event, but as Stein notes, that hasn’t even gotten so much as a tweet. Their Republican counterpart NRSC at least offered a few tweets yesterday on Bill Cassidy’s behalf, even if they didn’t seem terribly interested in the debate either.

Too bad. The debate apparently provided a fitting denouement to the Landrieu era in Louisiana, with the Democratic incumbent throwing any kind of mud she could in the finale as she desperately tried to distract voters from her own meltdown. Unfortunately, that worked out as well as one might expect from Team Landrieu. The Senator accused her opponent of falsifying time sheets to make it look like he spent more time helping the poor than he actually did, a weird accusation that highlighted Cassidy’s efforts to provide low-cost medical care to those in need. It also opened up Landrieu to the obvious counter-attack:


Days before the debate, Landrieu attacked Cassidy’s medical record, alleging the three-term congressman and doctor padded his payroll by manipulating his time sheet at the Louisiana State University clinic where he practices.

Defending his service, Cassidy admitted he filled out the records himself.

“Whenever you go to a clinic, you fill out charts and you sign sheets, and everybody knows where you are,” Cassidy said.

But Landrieu was persistent with her allegations.

“I think that you owe the taxpayers an explanation for why you took $174,000 — which is your salary — plus $20,000, plus we believe – and until we get all the records — they also paid for his medical malpractice,” she asserted. “He’s the only doctor in the Congress that has this sweetheart deal. The only one.”

How many of them take shifts in public hospitals to provide that low-cost care during time away from Capitol Hill? Rand Paul volunteers his time outside of the country, and other than that, there aren’t that many doctors in Congress now. It probably doesn’t take too many billable hours in a public hospital for a surgeon to earn $20,000 anyway, and the time sheets are just that — the same kind of time sheets that professionals use in other professions.

Dave Weigel couldn’t quite believe that Team Landrieu thought this was a good line of attack:


More importantly, it set up this easy slam from Cassidy:

But in addition to defending himself, Cassidy was quick to fire back at Landrieu for using taxpayer dollars to fund her private campaign transportation, a violation for which she has apologized and reimbursed taxpayers for.

“When I treat patients in the public hospital system, clearly those patients benefit,” Cassidy said. “When she takes chartered jets on taxpayer dime to campaign events, who is it that benefits?”

The incoherence reaches farther than just on the mud-throwing. James Hohmann noted that Landrieu spent the debate trying to distance herself from the deeply unpopular Barack Obama:

Meanwhile, when addressing mostly white audiences, Landrieu has been adamant that the election has nothing to do with Obama, and that she can think for herself.

“He’s not for Keystone; I am,” she said during a televised debate Monday night. “He shut down oil and gas drilling; we all are for it.”

However, her campaign surrogates are telling some voters just the opposite, claiming that Landrieu wants the runoff to be “a referendum on the President”:


And while the GOP has been casting the Louisiana Senate race as a referendum on the Obama years, others have also used that line in a bid to help the imperiled incumbent.

According to The Weekly Standard, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, campaigning in Louisiana for Landrieu, told a predominantly African-American crowd the weekend before last, “This state can tell all those Obama haters that we are motivators. Let it be a referendum on the president, because we support the president.”

When it comes to policy, viewers got a pretty good look at the almost-nonexistent distance between Landrieu and Obama. She spent part of the debate defending ObamaCare, which a year ago she predicted she’d win re-election for supporting:

She also hinted that she wants to raise the gas tax:

“We should look at the gasoline tax,” Landrieu said. “I’m not prepared to say raise it tonight, but additional funding has to be brought in to fix this infrastructure.”

At another point in the debate, Landrieu denied that she ever backed abortion, which would make her 100% rating from NARAL in 2013 rather curious:


Landrieu’s desperation has become so clear that it’s almost become a kind of performance art now. She has made herself into the epitome of the self-centered politician, willing to say anything and claim all positions just for the sake of clinging to her office. Ellen Carmichael wondered at one point why she didn’t spare herself the humiliation and withdraw from the race after November 4th, but politicians this desperate never see the writing on the wall until it’s far too late.

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Jazz Shaw 9:20 AM | April 19, 2024