The Green Papers Commentary

Sandlot and Playground style Politics in the Pelican State

Saturday, November 20, 1999

"The Green Papers" staff

A few weeks ago, I became totally bored with what’s on television: the overly derivative sitcoms and dramatic series, my sports teams which- as usual- don’t seem to be doing particularly well of late... you name it! I haven’t been able to pick a Compact Disc to play on my stereo in weeks and, as for putting on the radio... forget it! I felt keenly the need for some real entertainment.

Then, one day recently, I was surfing the web as the primary researcher/commentator for “The Green Papers” and my need was suddenly filled. I found the perfect entertainment source: the Louisiana Republican Party website at “”! Here I found an ongoing battle that makes the blatant childishness of the fights during recess on the playground pale in comparison: the tiff between the Louisiana GOP chairman and those he has demonized, such as his state’s Governor and more than a handful of Republican presidential hopefuls.

What makes this catfight particularly fascinating to me is that party chairman Mike Francis is taking on a governor of his own party, Mike Foster, who was only recently re-elected to that office with 62 percent of the vote! More interesting is the fact that Mr. Francis has decided to post his diatribes, cleverly disguised as intraparty memoranda, on the World Wide Web for all of us on the ’Net to enjoy!

Before I go ahead and outline, as well as occasionally critique, Mr. Francis’ literary muse, let me just state- for the record- that I am actually on the Louisiana Republican chairman’s side insofar as the issue at hand is concerned: that issue being whether or not Louisiana should be allowed to hold Republican caucuses as early as 15 January so the state GOP can begin their delegate selection procedure before everyone else. Evidently, Governor Foster is dis’ing his own state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses (Oh? You thought IOWA had the first caucuses?? Yet more evidence of why “The Green Papers” is sorely needed where the mainstream media continues to fail the American public)- a fact I find almost as fascinating as Mr. Francis trashing Governor Foster. “Hi, I’m your Governor. I want to take away the effectiveness of your political voice. Vote for me!” Seems like the light bulb in Governor Foster’s fridge has gone a bit dim... but, as I’ve already said, he was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote: so which state’s voters have even dimmer bulbs?

Personally, I think any state should be allowed, within the present system of National Conventions (and I am not here going to take on the issue of whether we should even have Conventions at all nowadays or switch to a National Primary or Regional Primaries or choose the party’s nominee by tossing darts at a dartboard with pictures of the contenders or any of that other stuff... this would have to be the subject of a whole other Commentary... maybe!... so please save your angry emails about conventions, caucuses, and primaries for some other more appropriate time), to choose its delegates any way the voters who are members of that state's party see fit. I have no truck with the centralization of the Democratic Party rules, especially in the way it whipsaws state Democratic parties into line not very unlike the way the CPSU of the ol’ USSR lashed the Communist Party of Kazakhstan at oldtime Soviet Party Congresses. I am also really not all that concerned about whether or not a state moves its presidential primary or first tier caucus up as far as it can in the pre-Convention calendar; I would just LOVE to see a state so schedule its primary in such a way that New Hampshire, with its silly “we have to be first by a week” statute (a law of which the Iowa caucuses have already long made a mockery... the recent, perhaps somewhat artificial, tiff between Iowa and New Hampshire over just how long it would be between these respective political events in the two states merely furthered that mockery), would have to hold its 2004 Presidential Primary just days before the 2000 General Election. So, if Louisiana wants its caucuses to be first in the nation, what do I care? Mr. Francis, you have my full support on that score.

But, having said all this, I have to seriously question the manner in which Mr. Francis is going about defending his state’s caucuses! Governor Foster was re-elected on Saturday 23 October (Louisiana has a rather strange electoral system: everyone- regardless of party- runs in a nonpartisan open primary, in 1999 scheduled for that date. If a candidate emerges with a majority of the vote for that office, that person is declared elected; if no one has such a majority, there is a runoff election between the top two vote-getters, in 1999 scheduled for Saturday 20 November- the very day I am typing this, in fact: Governor Foster, with his 62 percent, managed to avoid the runoff)... on Friday 5 November, Chairman Francis posted a rather angry memo on the state GOP website (and, again, keep in mind that the newly re-elected Governor IS a Republican).

In his memo, Mr. Francis defended the Louisiana caucuses; from what he says, he was pressured by one George W. Bush in the presence of Governor Foster to support the Texas Governor and tinker with the caucus rules in a way most favorable to Mr. Bush junior. Mr. Francis chose to remain neutral in the GOP presidential race, a position I actually find rather admirable (imagine that!... a party chairman refusing to twist the way his party allows National Convention delegates to be chosen to favor a given presidential candidate!!... what could be next?... people actually refusing to run red lights?! God Almighty!... just WHAT is this society coming to!!). The GOP chairman of my own state of New Jersey, Garabed “Chuck” Haytaian- a failed candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1994, could have used a few pointers from Mike Francis four years ago when he engaged in a fair amount of political chicanery to try, unsuccessfully as things turned out, to keep presidential contender Alan Keyes off the New Jersey Republican Primary ballot. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Haytaian might have learned anything from his Louisiana colleague THIS time round!)

Mr. Francis then goes on to provide a chronology of just how Governor Foster, in league with Governor Bush of Texas and “the liberal media”, has tried to trash the Louisiana caucuses. At one point, Mr. Francis notes, state party committee members held an illegal rump session “after inviting all the liberal media” (must have been an awfully BIG room!... where was this meeting anyway?: the Superdome in New Orleans?!) and spent time “questioning [Mr. Francis’] sanity”. I’d have a lot more sympathy than I already do with Mr. Francis' position if the Louisiana GOP chairman hadn’t given those who have read his 5 November memo a measure of his sanity to question. The “liberal media” in league with George W. Bush and Governor Foster? You’ve got to be kidding me! Governor Foster endorsed Pat Buchanan when Buchanan won the Louisiana caucuses back in ‘96 and, if Governor Bush working in league with Governor Foster somehow puts them both in a conspiracy with “liberal media”, I would have to seriously question Mike Francis’ knowledge of what a “liberal” really is, based on his Governor’s own politics and ideology!

And how about the notion that the “liberal media” is working ever so diligently to trash Louisiana’s GOP caucuses?! Does Mr. Francis honestly believe the mainstream media actually cares about his state’s little caucuses, especially as those caucuses choose not a single National Convention delegate and therefore have no real, direct effect upon the presidential nomination??!! First of all, the mainstream media would have to have worked their way through the entire convoluted Louisiana GOP rules of delegate selection (as I had to before they were posted on “The Green Papers”... in ENGLISH, no less!!) in order to understand just which Republican presidential contender(s) those rules actually favored or not. The answer is NONE OF ‘EM! I DO, however, agree with Mr. Francis that Governor Bush obviously pulled out of the Louisiana caucuses because he feared he might not win in a few congressional districts (21 district delegates are to be chosen by conventions before 8 April without necessarily any reference whatsoever to the 14 March Winner-Take-All primary for the 7 at-large GOP delegates from the Pelican State), which would not have stood him in good stead nine days later in Iowa (especially as Louisiana is right next store to Texas and, thus, would be considered to be a part of Governor Bush’s home region of the country).

On Wednesday 10 November, Chairman Francis posted yet another memo on the “lagop” website in which he talked about how, with 3 of the 6 major Republican contenders boycotting the Pelican State, Louisiana’s “role will be minimized during this presidential campaign cycle” and how the state’s GOP will soon “develop new plans for a downscaled caucus on January 15th” even though “under RNC rules, we are prohibited from making changes to the bulk of our rules at this point, so we will proceed with caution”. There appeared to be a white flag slowly rising from high up in the Louisiana Republican organization.

But wait!... in yet another memo posted on the website, dated Tuesday 16 November, Mike Francis put out an FAQ (as in “Frequently Asked Questions”) filled with more than a little defiance (stating emphatically how the caucuses have “already been a tremendous success” and how the notion that the state’s GOP can’t afford to hold the caucuses is “ridiculous”, noting that “repealing or changing this process now would endanger the seating of [Louisiana’s] delegation at the Republican National Convention” and how the state GOP had “given [its] word [NOTE: that is, to the three remaining presidential contenders participating: Bauer, Hatch and Keyes- REB-A] and must follow through”) mixed with at least a tincture of paranoia (the chairman noting that “calling off this process now and bowing to pressure from the liberal media is just like what’s been going on in Louisiana for decades”)

I will close by reiterating that, except for his oft-repeated statements that the “liberal media” was involved in attempting to destroy the Louisiana caucuses, I am very much in sympathy with Chairman Francis’ position: and I, too, as he stated in his 10 November posting, "hope that the personalities and party politics involved will be put aside" here. This whole spectacle of the Louisiana caucuses being potentially destroyed by the actions of those who support one Republican candidate over the others, much like last month’s political shenanigans between Iowa and New Hampshire over just when caucus and primary would be held in a situation where the spouses of the Governors of those two states are clearly supporters of one Democratic candidate over the other, only diminishes the democratic process that much more. Any attempt to, in effect, rig the selection of a state’s delegation to a party’s National Convention in favor of a given presidential contender before the average voter, should he or she choose to do so, has exercised the right to speak through their participation in a primary election or local caucus makes a cruel joke out of the National Conventions which have already become nothing more than glorified telethons rather than important gatherings at which various factions within the two major national parties hash out the party’s political ideas which they will run on come Autumn.

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