Feb 3, 201409:53 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Dynasties are for Ducks; Landrieus are Something Else (Mannings, too)
What makes a family a dynasty?
Before it gets overstated let's get it right: The Landrieu family is NOT a political dynasty, they are just a family that has done well in their profession. If Mitch Landrieu serves out all four years of his new term, there will have been 16 years of Landrieus in the Mayor's office, eight for Mitch and eight for his father, Moon. But the same can be said for the Morial father and son combination, Dutch and Marc. Before term limitations, DeLesseps Morrison was elected to four terms though he did not quite reach 16 years, only because he resigned to accept an ambassadorial appointment. Despite Morrison's dominance over local politics, his son, Toni, would one day run for mayor and lose – to Morial. There was no dynasty. Mary Landrieu is running for her fourth term in the U.S. Senate but each time she has had to battle hard. There has been no hand out.
What this all means is that sometimes there are families that have their moment in the spotlight. The success of the Landrieus was fashioned by Poppa Moon who developed a reputation as a loyal Democrat and who was a progressive on race issues long before most other white politicians of his day were. Landrieu's political leanings sincerely reflected his moral beliefs and his Jesuit upbringing, but they were also good for urban politics particularly as the black vote grew. More than just being the white hope, the Landrieus were in the unique position of being the black hope, too. There has never been a major scandal associated with the Landrieu name and they have always had a grasp on the mechanics of government.
Yet one day there will not be a Landrieu in a major office, the spotlight will have shifted.
It is not unusual for offsprings to follow the career model of a parent, all the better when the parent sets a standard of excellence. On the day after the mayoral election, another son of a New Orleans family, his first name is Peyton, had a miserable night at the Super Bowl, but at least he has made it to the big game three times. His brother, Eli, has won two. There, too, is talk of a dynasty. But I suspect that both Archie Manning and Moon Landrieu know that what they started was not a dynasty but a legacy of achievement. That can outshine any trophy.