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Analyst Cokie Roberts Steeped in Louisiana Politics

NPR News Analyst Cokie Roberts grew up in Louisiana in the 1940 and 50s -- the daughter of Hale and Lindy Boggs, who both represented New Orleans in Congress.

Cokie was home, here in Louisiana yesterday, to deliver the keynote speech at LSU's commencement ceremony.

Before all the pomp and circumstance, WRKF's Amy Jeffries caught up with her.

JEFFRIES: So how's your mother?

ROBERTS: My mother is grand. She turned 97 in March, and she is terrific, thank you. And she's very jealous that I'm here and she's not.

JEFFRIES: Certainly as the daughter of Congress members you grew up steeped in it.

ROBERTS: Absolutely.

JEFFRIES: And I wonder if you are expected therefore to forever be an expert in Louisiana politics in particular.

ROBERTS: Yes. Yes, is the answer to that question. And, of course, I'm not.

I know a lot about our history and I know, you know, a good bit about Louisiana politics in the 1950s. But I'm not at all an expert in Louisiana politics in 2013. You are! Here's where the experts are.

Now, it is true that we have races here that have national significance, and so, of course, I'm up to snuff on Mary Landrieu's potential campaign. Any gubernatorial race in Louisiana is always interesting. The Congressional seats have become interesting of late. So, it is politics that pretty much anybody who covers American politics knows a good bit about.

JEFFRIES: I was listening back to the commentary that you did when Bobby Jindal was first elected governor is 2007, and your reaction then was literally, "Wow". You used that word to describe him and that he was quite the wonder.

ROBERTS: Well, I think it was wondrous for Louisiana to do this. Because, look, you have to understand, I did grow up in the Louisiana of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and this was a very very very racially divided society, and the notion that someone with brown skin would be elected governor of Louisiana, was something very unusual, to put it mildly.

For Louisiana to do this, was like America electing Barack Obama. This was a change of such magnitude that, "Wow" is the right word.

JEFFRIES: If you look at Jindal now, how his governorship has transpired, from your distance, from your vantage point in Washington, does it still make you go, 'Wow'? Are you still impressed with this guy?

ROBERTS: Well, again, it wasn't the guy I was really reacting to, it was the fact.

But, looking at him from outside, it started to look very quickly as if he were running for president. And that is not a very fortuitous way to governor, because to governor you need to put coalitions together and you need to blur lines, and you need to deal in grays. To run, you need bright lines, and you need to have strong stands, and you need to deal in black and whites. So, if you're running governing is much harder.

JEFFRIES: Cokie Roberts, who joins us on Morning Edition most Mondays, thanks for the extra visit this week.

ROBERTS: So nice to be with you, Amy.

Copyright 2021 WRKF. To see more, visit WRKF.


Amy Jeffries
Amy started her career in public radio at WNPR in Hartford, CT more than a decade ago. NPR flew her in to Baton Rouge to help WRKF cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while she was still based in the North. Here she found her journalistic calling.

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