Political discourse collides with the Christmas season

I was struck today by a piece I read online at NOLA.com about former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco. A recent health update spurred her on to write an open letter to family, friends, and supporters which was published Sunday. I have been thinking a lot about public discourse among politicos and voters, especially in social media lately, and her letter sparked lots of memories for me.

Blanco was diagnosed in 2011 with ocular melanoma (eye cancer) which was treated at the time. Now, however, she has been told that cancer has spread to her liver. She has been in Philadelphia for treatment.

Kathleen Blanco has a record of many years in public service. She is well-known and well-liked by people in both parties. She’s the old-school yellow dog kind of Louisiana Democrat. She isn’t crazy liberal, she’s just a Democrat. When I lived in south Louisiana, she used her maiden name as well as her married name. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has a large Cajun family and they are her first priority. I remember seeing her shop in the aisles of Wal-Mart like the rest of us for household items and bargains. (NOLA.com)

Blanco’s political career in Louisiana spanned more than 30 years from 1984 to 2007. She served in the Louisiana House of Representatives, on the Public Service Commission and as lieutenant governor before ascending to Louisiana’s top office in 2003.

Blanco broke the proverbial glass ceiling for women more than once in Louisiana politics. She became the first woman to lead the Public Service Commission and was later the first woman elected governor.


None of this, however, changes the fact that, though it was exciting to have a woman elected as governor in the midst of good old boy territory, she is a Democrat woman. I thought she was inept and incompetent in her term as governor. Clearly, I wasn’t alone in that conclusion – she only served one term in that office. Her career didn’t survive Hurricane Katrina. Her open letter published Sunday was full of gratitude and grace. It was quite fitting for the holiday season.

I now face a new challenge.  I am in a fight for my own life, one that will be difficult to win, battling the melanoma that has invaded my liver. I knew from the start of my cancer journey this could happen, but with each passing year I hoped this cup would pass me by.  It did not.

I have begun a treatment program that hopefully, over time, will quell these cancer demons.  No treatments have yet been identified to actually cure this type of melanoma, so a variety of treatments will likely be necessary over time.  I would deeply appreciate, if you should see fit, that you offer prayers on behalf of myself, as well as all others fighting to survive life-threatening illnesses.

Fortunately, the comments on that article have all been supportive of Blanco. We all know how comments spiral out of control in the political arena. Nothing brings the haters out like natural disasters. I was plenty critical of Blanco’s handling of Hurricane Katrina. As California burns today, those filled with hate are celebrating the loss of property of those they disagree with politically. Political discourse in the age of social media allows every hot take to be transmitted around the world. Though I am quite familiar with the Hollywood left’s spiraling out of control over Trump Derangement Syndrome, some tweets have truly jumped the shark. Netflix show host Chelsea Handler blames Trump for the wildfires (of course). On December 6 she tweeted, “Just evacuated my house. It’s like Donald Trump is setting the world on fire. Literally and figuratively. Stay safe. Dark times.”

Liberals are cheering that Rupert Murdoch’s house burned.

Neera Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress and frequent cable news commentator, was more than happy that “karma” had burned down the home of Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp, which owns Fox News.

Reacting to the news of Murdoch’s misfortune, Tanden retweeted the information and added, “There’s a God. And she’s unhappy.”

When called out about that tweet, she did what juveniles often do. She claimed it was just a joke and that she was only noting “karma”. Then she deleted it. Oh, brother.

“I’m deleting this tweet. It wasn’t funny when so many are hurting and scared. Feel badly about it.”

It’s Christmas. Maybe we can all just take a breath and try to be a little more decent with what is put out into the universe.