You can always tell when a candidate for public office has lots of campaign money but not enough intelligence to spend it wisely. Or, as I prefer to put it, more dollars than sense.
Such a candidate inevitably starts picking fights with people who aren’t even running against him. It’s the political equivalent of making a “strawman” argument — inventing unpopular foes that he can pretend to knock down.
It’s a cheap trick and, politically, a cheap shot.
Cue Attorney General Jeff Landry, whose latest TV ads suggest he’s running for governor against Black elected leaders in some of Louisiana’s largest cities, not against his six declared opponents.
Landry has run three virtually identical ads in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport using the same script and slogan — “Enough is enough” — but with local crime scene video covering Landry’s faux-tough-guy message. “New Orleans,” Landry begins in the Crescent City version, “your criminal justice system is broken.” In Baton Rouge and Shreveport, he uses the same script but begins by naming those cities.
That’s the extent of Landry’s deep dive into Louisiana’s urban crime problem.
An announcer then calls Landry “a former police officer, sheriff’s deputy and the attorney general” and adds, “Jeff Landry knows what it takes to fight crime.” Then, instead of telling voters what it takes to fight crime, Landry takes a gratuitous swipe at his fellow crimefighters.
“When DA’s fail to prosecute, when judges fail to act, when police are handcuffed instead of the criminals — enough is enough!” Landry intones, visibly reading from his script at a podium, which doesn’t exactly project crime-fighting gravitas. The former lawman then delivers his case cracker: “We’re going to hold everyone, and I mean everyone, accountable for violent crime.”
No, we’re not.
First and foremost, Landry has been AG — the state’s top prosecutor — for the past eight years. If he “knows what it takes to fight crime” and is such an effective crimefighter, why is crime so out of control?
Second, when Landry talks about holding “everyone, and I mean everyone, accountable,” the New Orleans ad squeezes a quick shot of Mayor LaToya Cantrell between short takes of young Black men engaged in shootouts, followed by brief video of Orleans Parish DA Jason Williams.
In the Shreveport ad, Landry likewise inserts video of Caddo Parish DA James Stewart. Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge ad does not include footage of local DA Hillar Moore.
Why is that? Does Landry plan to hold Cantrell, Williams and Stewart “accountable” — but not Moore?
Or is it because, while all four are Democrats, Cantrell, Williams and Stewart are Black, and Moore is white?
“I think it’s obvious,” Stewart said of Landry’s not-so-subtle race baiting. He said Landry needs to explain why his ad “has the Black DA in Caddo and the Black DA in Orleans, but he didn’t have the white DA in Baton Rouge.”
Because, when it comes to using political strawmen and racist dog whistles, Landry’s ad got one thing right: Enough is enough.