Does Caroline Fayard Represent Today’s Louisiana Democrats?

It seems she might.

Turns out that the event in Bogalusa at which she dropped the now-infamous “I hate Republicans” line was a fairly hifalutin confab at which other speakers included Louisiana Democrat Party chairman Buddy Leach and party executive director Renee Lapeyrolerie.

The state Democrat party has yet to issue an official statement on the Fayard flap, which has received quite a bit of publicity to date. Apparently, they’re happy to stand by Fayard’s comments.

Fayard, meanwhile, has been attempting a bit of damage control following exposure of the gaffe. In an interview with Gambit this afternoon, she neither walked the statement back nor particularly took ownership of it…

“I don’t have my notes from the speech,” Fayard told Gambit this afternoon, saying she addressed the group “off the cuff.” Asked if she was trying to draw a distinction between popular perceptions of herself as a liberal, or was exaggerating what she perceived as her public persona as a Democrat, she said “I spoke off the cuff, and I don’t remember the exact context. I think it was a contextual issue. Chalk it up to my naivete in politics.”

And then she gave the Times-Picayune the typical “out of context” song and dance…

In a telephone interview Monday, Fayard did not deny making the comments, but said they were taken out of context and were not part of her prepared remarks.

“What I recollect is I was making a point about the divisiveness of campaigns,” Fayard said.

Later in the interview, she said, “I think I could have been more clear and more incisive about my attempts to highlight how divisive we’ve become.”

The Picayune article by Jan Moller, by the way, contains an absolutely amazing drive-by of the real story about Fayard and the state Democrat party which sticks to her like glue…

A political unknown until she entered the special election for lieutenant governor last summer, Fayard finished second in an eight-candidate field in the Oct. 2 primary. But despite a strong push by the state Democratic Party, which poured more than $700,000 into the race during the final weeks, she won just 43 percent of the vote against Dardenne in the Nov. 2 runoff.

One has little choice but to chalk Moller’s statement about the financing of Fayard’s campaign through the state Democrat party up to ignorance – but on the part of a political journalist for the state’s largest newspaper it’s of questionable acceptability not to at least reference the fact that the vast majority of the cash dumped into the race by the state party came courtesy of her father. That funneling of Fayard family funds with the party’s PAC as an intermediary appears to be a clear violation of state law prohibiting the earmarking of PAC donations for specific campaigns, though to date – surprisingly – there has not been a public complaint made to the Board of Ethics. That’s a circumstance one could well expect to change prior to this year’s election cycle should Fayard actually pick something to run for and begin a campaign.

But back to the Gambit article, does Fayard hint at what that something to run for might be?

“I think I’m conservative. I’m against the president [Barack Obama], but I don’t need to see his birth certificate. … I’m a pro life conservative from the Tickfaw, and a registered Democrat.”

As far as her comments — which were likely kindling for talk radio hosts — Fayard said that those who were denouncing her “are probably not the people who want to see me run for governor.”

So she is running?

Fayard laughed. “I’m flattered,” she said, “but I don’t know what I’m doing next.”

“I got exposure to national politics when I worked outside the state, and I didn’t like it and came home. The negative side of the experience,” she added, “is watching people flying over to one side [switching parties] so they can keep their jobs, people in power having secret meetings. I could run for dog catcher and they would make this a national referendum.”

In this respect, one can completely understand why the Democrats are so protective of Fayard. She personifies them perfectly.

Consider it.

First, like the rest of the party’s luminaries from Charlie Melancon on down, there’s the laughable assertion of conservatism. Fayard is so conservative and so against Obama that she graded him a “B+” in front of a League of Women Voters forum last October in the midst of the president’s moratorium on offshore drilling. That’s actually an even better grade than the aggregate “B” (an “A” and a “C” come out to a “B,” generally speaking) that Melancon gave the president last year. You can only square that rhetoric with conservatism if you hold your nose, suspend your disbelief and agree to the proposition that the most left-wing president in the nation’s modern history is conservative as well.

It’s almost as though Fayard – and the Democrats – took a look at some polls and decided people like conservatism and maybe they need to get some of it…

She’s a perfect mascot for the Democrats in another way – namely that she won’t commit to running for governor and they can’t seem to find a candidate who’ll make the race, either. Clearly she wants to run, and you’d suspect the state Democrats have ambitions of participating in the gubernatorial election after failing to do so four years ago (and don’t give me Walter Boasso and Foster Campbell; that doesn’t constitute participation in the 2007 race). But neither has so far taken the plunge, and one wonders if there’s bite behind the bark at all.

The “I hate Republicans; they eat their young and they’re bullies” remark in its own right is emblematic of Democrats not just in Louisiana but pretty much everywhere. The level of vitriol and perception of political opponents as sworn enemies on the Democrat side is palpable, and it has been especially so since about 2000. Is there vitriol on the Right? Of course there is – but the difference is that the Republican establishment attempts to run from it. Until Donald Trump came along, for example, you could empty a room full of GOP muckety-mucks in no time by bringing up the question of Obama’s birth certificate, and John McCain flatly refused to bring up Rev. Jeremiah Wright until the 2008 election was already lost.

Compare that to the Democrat establishment. You don’t have to go any further than Fayard’s statements, which were made in front of the party’s hierarchy. The Democrats’ media flack Kevin Franck responded to the flap by bragging that Republicans must be really worried about her. No acceptance that using the word “hate” to describe political opponents isn’t considered good form in civil discourse. Just a sneer – as though the party didn’t need a massive PR makeover after getting taken to the woodshed in virtually every Louisiana election over the last year and losing statewide officials and legislators in their droves to the Republicans in recent party flips. Fayard, who passes for a rising star in that party, has the same attitude. She didn’t say she hates Republicans as part of her prepared remarks, so it doesn’t count? She expects the public to accept that? And after the countless political donations she’s made (or her father has made in her name), the stint working for Hillary Clinton and a statewide political campaign, she chalks it up to naivete?

Whose naivete is she talking about?

I could go into the issue of contempt for the voters you’re trying to get a majority of to elect you here – because it appears both Fayard and the state’s Democrats have it in spades – but I’ll leave that for another day.

The fact is, at this point Louisiana’s Democrat Party is dead without Caroline Fayard and her father’s money. She’s the only potential candidate they have who has so much as a prayer of winning a statewide race, and unless Leach himself is willing to finance races the Fayards might be the only reliable source of funds they have left. So regardless of what stupid and ugly statements might come out of her mouth, nobody from the little plantation on Government Street is going to utter so much as a peep. And increasingly, nobody will take these people seriously – at least not until such time as the state GOP has managed to match the Democrats in incompetence and corruption as Louisiana’s dominant political party.

That could take decades.

But in the meantime, let’s just say this. Nobody on the Right – those of us Caroline says she hates – has a problem with the idea of her running for governor. Stupid gaffes like the one she made over the weekend, the laughable assertion she’s a conservative because she goes to church and her record of blowing the campaign finance laws sky-high don’t exactly recommend her as gubernatorial material. She was cute and new as a rookie candidate last year, and she got all of 43 percent of the vote against a Republican many conservatives weren’t excited about. This fall, running  for governor against an incumbent with $9 million in the bank and an approval rating over 50 percent, she might be relieved of a bit more of her political “naivete” –  specifically, that professing hatred in public for your fellow Louisianans won’t get you very far.



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