The Elbert Guillory-Kip Holden N-Word Controversy

State Sen. Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas) is putting an ad on TV using the N-word, and he and Baton Rouge mayor-president Kip Holden are having a big fight about it.

Guillory, the state’s most prominent black conservative political figure, is currently sitting at about five percent in the polls, placing him last among the four candidates for Lt. Governor. He’s also struggling with fundraising – in fact, Guillory’s last campaign finance report had him at negative $3900, which places him at an almost impossible disadvantage. The other two Republican candidates in the race, Jefferson Parish president John Young and Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser, are both sitting at well over a million dollars in their war chests. Holden, who has about $60,000 as of his last report, at least has a base of voters he can count on to deliver him a spot in the runoff.

So Guillory needs something to shake up the race. And he’s airing a 60-second campaign spot which he hopes will get him some earned media and generate some much-needed momentum.

Guillory has made a number of political videos before – last year he offered one in the context of the Bill Cassidy-Mary Landrieu Senate race which challenged black voters to examine what the results of the Democrat welfare state have been for the black community and to reassess their support for Democrat politicians as a result. This spot goes a bit further, as it includes a reference to the infamous Lyndon B. Johnson quote about how his Great Society program would “have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.”

At the time the quote was rather well-known, but when the N-word began to be considered declasse’ in the 1970’s the quote fell into obscurity. Now, there are people who deny Johnson even said it, though the results of his program certainly seem to fit the sentiments such a quote would express.

And Guillory has been quite consistent in his message that the Democrat Party has led the black community down the primrose path. This ad, which is being paid for by a PAC called Louisianans for Better Government, is just an extension of that message.

But Holden didn’t like it. Perhaps what he really doesn’t like is the idea that Guillory might be able to break loose some piece of the black vote and somehow slip past him into the runoff with either Young or Nungesser, though most observers would call that a longshot at this point. In any event, Holden castigated Guillory for having used the N-word.

Holden took Guillory to task for using the “divisive” word in an attempt to “justify a party.”

“He should be trying to educate people about coming together more instead of using language that puts a dividing line between us,” Holden said.

“It’s a sad commentary in politics today that a person who is black would even venture out to use the N-word when there are other people out there trying to bring the races together as one,” Holden said. “Here’s one of our own trying to justify a party and using what was allegedly said by Lyndon Johnson. He’s hiding behind that to call black people niggers.”

You can say that Guillory is being overly provocative bringing that LBJ quote back from the dead, and you can question how he expects the video to positively affect the electoral math in the Lt. Governor’s race in his favor. At best, what he’s doing is a suicide-bombing of Holden and paving the way for a Young/Nungesser runoff; after all, LBJ’s Great Society doesn’t have a whole lot to do with culture and tourism like the Lt. Governor’s office is in charge of, and talking about race in this campaign is a bit of a distraction unless the context is the controversy over the confederate monuments Mitch Landrieu is trying to bulldoze in New Orleans.

Having said that, Holden really shouldn’t be pontificating about how anyone is “divisive” after the quote above. It’s beneath contempt for him to accuse Guillory of calling black people the N-word when anyone with a brain can see that Guillory is attempting to illustrate the cynicism and contempt Holden’s party has for black people and how it’s unworthy of their support.

Guillory points out that Democrats think of blacks as the N-word, and Holden accuses Guillory of calling blacks the N-word.

Which makes Guillory’s point about the cynicism and contempt of Democrats for blacks, no? Holden would have to be cynical and contemptuous of people he thinks would actually believe Guillory is trying to sneakily call people who look like him an ugly epithet, would he not?

Frankly, it would be a nice piece of political hygiene if Guillory could suicide-bomb Holden out of the runoff. His three terms as mayor-president in Baton Rouge have been a great benefit for Livingston and Ascension Parishes, he frequently makes stupid statements like the ones at issue in this controversy, his questionable behavior and apparent abuse of alcohol have been an embarrassment and his fiscal management of city resources has been appalling. There is virtually zero chance of his being elected, and should he fall short of the runoff it would mean the November field in that race would contain more talent and honesty.

Although one could be excused for having interest in seeing Holden absorb a debilitating, humiliating beatdown in a head-to-head matchup with Young or Nungesser in November. This week’s idiotic attack on Guillory is reason enough to want to see a public repudiation of a political figure richly deserving of comeuppance.



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