It is a source of wonderment that Louisiana "conservatives" continue to tolerate Richard Vitter, an amoral political lightweight not worthy of his rakish Louisiana political forbears. Can you imagine Earl Long calling up the D. C. madam to PAY to get laid? Or fielding calls from hookers while he was supposed to be paying attention to business on the floor of Congress? Edwin Edwards in his heyday managed his business better than this, but never pretended to be a saint. Neither of these gentlemen were nearly as hypocritical or venal as Vitter and McCallister, and both did a great deal more good for the state. If Louisianans can't find a better prospect for the Governor's Mansion than Mr. Vitter or the current occupant, then maybe it is time to just declare the office vacant. Maybe other states facing the same kinds of political bankruptcy will take note of the good example. In any case, the good people of Louisiana deserve better than this crowd of pseudo-moralistic ideologues. They don't even make for entertaining political theater.
The respondents to Martha, especially Cazz, are on target. The Picayune is a revered cultural institution, readership has not declined, and the reasons for the decline in advertising are indeed the decline of other community commercial institutions, plus the lure of on-line ads which may not cost less, but are likely to involve less expense to the absentee owners, who appear to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. I grew up with the Picayune and continue to read it regularly on my trips to Louisiana each year. Its quality--the writing, the range of subjects, its comparatively cosmopolitan soul--all far exceed the Charlotte Observer (current subscription, soul-less). They used to surpass most other southern newspapers as well. Cheers for the Advocate for hiring the jettisoned talent, but they cannot take the place of a New Orleans institution. The Newhouses will continue to hollow the T-P out in good colonialist, extractive fashion until it exists only in the ether, if there. They might not even notice its obituary, obsessed as they are with counting their money. These people have values Willard Romney would be proud of. One can always expect the shameful from the shameless.
I will miss the Times-Picayune, which I read as a kid and a graduate student. More recently, I have greatly enjoyed during my two to three yearly visits to Louisiana. As for the detractors above, I will only say that the T-P is markedly superior in content & interest to the Charlotte Observer, which we have been getting for some years now. I suspect that some of the detractors would prefer something like Lafayette's Daily Advertiser for its unabashedly right-wing tone. However, I daresay that no dispassionate analyst would rank the Picayune below the Advertiser or a whole host of other papers on any other count. In any event, the T-P's decline mirrors that of New Orleans, and the growing celebration of ignorance (and ignoramuses) in our country.
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