Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Presenting the world's most unlikely "news" story

Today in the Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper), there is a lead story about Gov.-elect Kathleen Blanco's visit with the LSU football team yesterday.

The headline of the story - and the focus of about half of it - is that Blanco got an LSU jersey, but is still looking for Sugar Bowl tickets.

Right.

This is either total political-spin B.S. or Blanco is about to become the most ineffective governor Louisiana has ever seen.

Louisiana politics runs on patronage, special favors and influence peddling. Hence the Sugar Bowl's standing policy of providing two tickets to each member of the Louisiana legislature each year for free.

But Blanco, we are to believe, is still looking for tickets. The most powerful person in the state, in the middle of setting up her administration (she has hundreds of appointments to make to very powerful state boards and offices), can't get a seat in the Superdome?

The accurate story is "Blanco hasn't chosen her seats to the Sugar Bowl yet." She has an offer to sit in Saints owner Tom Benson's box, but Benson was a supporter of her opponent in the election.

And I'm sure every big-spending sugarcane rancher, oil field supplier, civil engineering firm and casino operator has called her office with a ticket offer.

She's holding off accepting offers because she (rightfully) wants to make sure the people sitting next to her are good prospects for bringing new business to the state. Ideally, a Superdome suite owner would just hand her the keys to their luxury box so Blanco can invite some executives from Nissan or some other place that might bring jobs to Louisiana.

That's the way this kind of thing works, but Blanco is pushing this image of herself as a Jane Doe Tiger fan just looking for tickets.

That's sweet. Of course, Blanco's not an LSU alum; she graduated from the school formerly known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana (it's now The University of Louisiana at Lafayette - aren't you impressed by that?). Until 1996 she lived and worked exclusively in Acadiana.

The quotes from her visit to the LSU practice field indicate she's not much of a football fan, either:
"I want to congratulate you because you have made Louisiana so proud. Your performance on the field, in the classroom and everywhere in Louisiana is extremely critical to us," Blanco told the Tigers.

Blanco also predicted the Tigers "will start off 2004 in the winner's chair."

"Work hard, and go out there with a great positive attitude and the heart to win, and you will win again," Blanco said.

"The winner's chair"? Yeah, we'll be in "the winner's chair." Whatever you say, governor.

The story

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