November 29, 2002
LOUISIANA VALUES:The Battle of New Orleans: The last election of 2002, Terrell vs. Landrieu, may also be the meanest. (Stephen F. Hayes, 12/09/2002, Weekly Standard)
When they faced off in a televised debate here last week, Suzanne Haik Terrell accused Senator Mary Landrieu of abandoning her Catholic faith because of her votes in favor of abortion. The comment--one of the strongest in-person attacks in recent memory--was virtually ignored by the media.
Perhaps that's because the charge is just one among dozens of harsh attacks traded in a race that is quickly becoming one of the most bitter of the 2002 election cycle. Maybe it's because Louisiana voters have heard similar sentiments before. In 1996, Archbishop Phillip Hannan said, if "a person actually believes in Catholic doctrine, then I don't see how they can vote for Landrieu without a feeling of sin." Or maybe the remark was overlooked because Landrieu's protest--she called it the "pit of politics"--was unconvincing. Landrieu, after all, has been playing victim on just about everything. When Terrell criticized her six years representing the Bayou state in the U.S. Senate, the incumbent responded pitifully. "Well, somebody thinks I'm doing a good job." And when Terrell spoke with pride about her three lovely daughters, Landrieu had had enough. "Ms. Terrell, who knows me quite well, fails to say that I also have two beautiful daughters." Oh, the indignity.
As for "Louisiana values"--Terrell used that phrase in the first sentence of the New Orleans debate, and returned to it several times over the next half-hour. "The people of Louisiana are extremely family-oriented and they have tremendous faith," she said, defining the term in an interview two days later. "It's a recognition of those things that are important--estate taxes and the tax structure, personal responsibility, raising children, the sanctity of life, guns, crime, and faith. Sixty percent of southern Louisiana is Catholic," she adds. Terrell insists that her opponent is out of touch with those values--voting with Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Daschle more than 80 percent of the time.
That, of course, is fair to point out. And it certainly contrasts with Landrieu's attempt to portray her voting record as moderate Democrat, which it is not. (Her record has won her high marks from liberal groups like Americans for Democratic Action. That group said Landrieu voted with its agenda 95 percent of the time in 1999, 80 percent in 2000, and 85 percent in 2001; her scores for those same years from the American Conservative Union were 4, 16, and 28.) But is it appropriate to accuse your opponent of abandoning her faith?
"Maybe it's an inappropriate comment," says Terrell. "I don't know. But as a practicing Catholic, I just don't understand how she can reconcile being a Catholic with her support for federal funding of abortions on overseas military bases, or with distributing morning-after pills in school."
That may be harsh but it seems fair. For too long the GOP has practiced unilateral rhetorical disarmament on the abortion issue, allowing Democrats to portray them as anti-woman with impunity. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that folks like Ms Landrieu, Mario Cuomo, and Joe Lieberman—to name a few--violate the tenets of their professed faiths when the keep abortion on demand legal. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2002 3:01 PM