John Bel’s Pre-Hurricane Touchdown Dance

The most self-congratulatory governor in Louisiana’s history strikes again with one of the most inappropriate tweets we’ve seen in a while. There’s a hurricane coming and John Bel Edwards’ press secretary is tweeting about his great front-page media coverage.

Yes. Seriously. That just happened.

And then there was a little more self-congratulation…



There’s an old Chris Rock standup routine about how inappropriate it is to take credit for things you’re supposed to be doing which we won’t repeat here because it’s a little on the risque side language-wise, but this is even maybe a little worse than that.

This is pretty nakedly seeking political advantage out of a natural disaster in the making.

“Never let a crisis go to waste,” and so on.

There are a couple of reasons this is considered bad form. One is that it comes off as selfish and insincere, as though the only reason Edwards is participating in hurricane preparations is for the positive media coverage. The fact is 99 percent of the work done to prepare for weather events is done by professionals in law enforcement, first responders and emergency preparation folks, and as often as not the elected officials and their political staffers get in the way as much as they help. But the voters expect the politicians to earn their keep when the chips are down in situations like this, so there will be at least a little bit of signaling by those politicians that “Hey, I’m doing my job.”

It’s important not to go overboard with respect to that. Bragging about how you made the front page of the Monroe News-Star takes you overboard.

The second reason excessive credit-taking in a situation like this is a bad idea is the hurricane hasn’t arrived yet – and when it does it’s impossible to predict what its effects will look like. We know there will be a lot of rain, and we know there will be some wind, and yes, there will be power outages and some flooding. We know those things. We don’t know where they’ll happen or how bad they’ll be.

And we know those things are totally out of our control.

Which is why the thing to do in advance is to be humble about what effect you as governor can have on the situation. As to the prevention of damage John Bel Edwards is virtually powerless. So why would he be taking credit for an indeterminate, out-of-his-control result?

Seems like he’s demanding the wrath of the political gods in doing so.

And he’s also making it fair game for his electoral opponents to heap blame on him for anything that goes wrong this weekend. If he’s going to take credit for storm preparations, that means he’s responsible for anybody’s house which floods, right?

Yes, that’s a stupid political game someone will play. And no, Edwards will have no standing to complain about it when it happens, given he’s playing stupid games of his own by having Cristina Stephens boast of his front-page newspaper headlines.

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