The Lafayette Independent’s coverage of the 3rd District congressional race thus far can be fairly described as “affable” toward the Boustany campaign.
But today, it appears that the campaign’s head-scratching approach to the question of participating in debates has finally become too much for the Independent’s Walter Pierce, who slammed Boustany with a mocking accusation of being chicken.
Most of are aware by now that miscommunication between the journalism and political science departments — epic miscommunication — led to a cancellation of the debate that was supposed to take place last Monday in the Angelle Hall auditorium on the UL Lafayette campus. Each department evidently believed the other was making arrangements with the various campaigns and keeping them updated on progress but somehow Boustany’s people were left out of the loop for nearly three weeks and, in what some are beginning to believe was a case of political paranoia that has Tricky Dick kicking in his grave, concluded that Prof. Robert Buckman of the journalism department was somehow conspiring with Landry’s tea party minions to set up Dr. Boustany. That wasn’t the case. By any stretch.
What broke the camel’s back for Pierce seemed to be an e-mail response by the Boustany campaign to an outreach by Prof. Buckman to all five campaigns in the race in hopes of setting up a last-ditch debate at 2 p.m. on October 29. Over the weekend Buckman had managed to get all of the other four campaigns on board with such a debate.
And then Boustany’s camp offered up their response…
Dr. Boustany has been involved in 2 debates with all the other candidates. Our campaign worked with ULL for several weeks to come up with the date and this campaign did every single thing in its power to make that debate a reality. However, other parties derailed those efforts. Dr. Boustany’s schedule is full of meetings with constituents he’s already committed to seeing. It’s a shame for the people of South Louisana the debate was cancelled due to the mishandling of the organizers.
Dr. Boustany would love to debate Jeff Landry in front of Rouse’s grocery store in Lafayette, where Jeff Landry supports a 23% tax increase on the goods inside. Perhaps at the Louisiana Board of Ethics Administration where a panel of Landry’s colleagues refused granting him a seat to that body by likening his appointment to, ‘Bonnie & Clyde’s appointment on a bank board.
Pierce then asked Boustany’s campaign manager John Porter if the Congressman really can’t make room on his schedule to take part in a debate a week before the election. And this is what he got in return…
Based on the issues of the past several days, we don’t believe Dr. Buckman’s organization of this event will lend to a credible, well run, unbiased forum. We were fully prepared to participate in our third debate, the ULL debate, but they cancelled it. If they were not able to pull this off in a fair manner in two months, I certainly don’t have faith they can do so in 14 days. Simply put, the Washington DC interests groups, like Freedom Works, attempt to hijack this debate is very disappointing. Jeff Landry should be held accountable to the people of this district for the actions of these DC groups who have moved into town to run his campaign.
There is no evidence that FreedomWorks has anything to do with ULL. None. And the faculty there have taken extreme issue with the suggestion they’ve been co-opted by the Tea Party; ULL is hardly known for being a hotbed of Tea Party activity, and what’s more Landry has become more or less persona non grata for taking issue with the decision to offer a minor in gay and lesbian studies at that university.
So it’s hard to understand what Boustany is talking about in refusing to do business with ULL where a debate is concerned. He’s not completely unreasonable for criticizing the failure in communication that led to the cancellation of the debate at the school which was to take place today – that was a train wreck and even the principals involved in it (including Buckman) have admitted as much.
But to refuse to debate?
Mitt Romney sent his vice presidential candidate to debate in front of a moderator at whose wedding Obama was in attendance. And tomorrow, Romney will debate in front of a moderator who called his choice of Paul Ryan a suicide pact. But Boustany can’t debate a freshman congressman, a Democrat trial lawyer, a Libertarian truck driver and a doctor who refuses to take campaign contributions in order to hold a seat he’s held for four terms?
Strange. Very strange.