Facebook Privacy Scandal Congress

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asks a question of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In 2015, John Bel Edwards was elected governor with just over 56 percent of the total vote. Now, just over halfway into his term, the state’s junior U.S. senator says he wants the governor to quit.

Even by U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s typically low standards of political theater, this is dumb stuff.

Kennedy, R-Madisonville, says he thinks Edwards should resign and let Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser run the state.

"I just don't think he (Edwards) can run the government, and if he can't he needs to step down and let Nungesser take a shot," Kennedy said during an interview this week on KPEL NewsTalk radio in Acadiana.

We are not surprised that Kennedy dropped his bombshell on talk radio, where bloviating hyperbole is the cultural norm. It’s a natural habitat for Kennedy, who typically favors sound bites over serious policy discussions.

At issue right now is the standoff between Edwards and the Legislature over taxes to fill the state budget gap left to Edwards when he took office. It’s a mess, all right, but one for which there’s more than enough blame to go around.

Perhaps Kennedy, who’s never been shy about offering advice to other elected officials about how to do their jobs, should speak to his GOP colleagues in the state House of Representatives, where sensible tax bills — including much-needed tax reforms — have been bottled up. If Edwards isn’t running the government, as Kennedy puts it, shouldn’t there be a raft of other resignations with his?

In truth, resignation is generally the nuclear option in high political office, something reserved for officials facing grave health issues, legal problems or profound breaches of public trust. The standard method of changing leadership should be the ballot box, where voters can decide for themselves whether a public servant deserves to stay in office. Kennedy’s suggestion that Edwards should resign gives short shrift to this basic principle of democracy, and it’s not worthy of the senator and his important public position.

In one interview of about 15 minutes, Kennedy suggested three times that Nungesser should become governor. Obviously, the senator’s half-baked rhetoric wasn’t an offhand remark, but a calculated talking point.

All of this makes for interesting media drama, but it’s bad for Louisiana. Kennedy’s current position is vital to the state, where aid for all kinds of projects and programs in Louisiana are decided.

Instead of using his position as a platform for politically absurd suggestions, Kennedy really ought to focus on what is important to those who elected him. The U.S. Senate, Kennedy’s ostensible workplace, hasn’t exactly been a model of accomplishment lately. If the senator is worried about the lack of political leadership these days, he should start by looking in the mirror.