The problem with public dialogue is that, more often than not, it is driven or disseminated by the media, whose representatives are frequently wrong (including this one, but not on this topic).
The fretting and hand-wringing over a leaked internal strategy document of the Gambling Free Tennessee Alliance is the most recent evidence of an irrational media establishment. Like most politically driven, professionally produced memos, this one isn’t all that prettybut neither is it some aberration from modern Tennessee politics. That the anti-lottery campaign wants to isolate the state’s best known lottery champion, state Sen. Steve Cohen, and use him as a symbol for why voters shouldn’t support gambling isn’t such a shocking or devious idea. (And it certainly doesn’t make its members anti-Semites, as Cohen has charged.)
In the last decade alone, Tennessee has seen candidates call one another “pond scum,” dredge up old divorce documents, evade every important issue facing the state (because their pollsters told them to) and launch ridiculous (off-the-record) whisper campaigns about marital infidelities and even clandestine same-sex relationships. What is most shocking here is that the media are surprised. Perhaps what it illustrates is not so much that the anti-lottery campaign is evil, but how little media members actually know about the political process.
“I’m not at all offended by Cohen doing what he’s doing,” says Michael Gilstrap, campaign director of the Gambling Free Tennessee Alliance. “He had the opportunity to try to kill the campaign...and I would have thought less of him if he didn’t try to do it. What I don’t like is the media double standard. There’s no basis in reality for what he’s saying, but nobody’s asking those questions. The anti-Semitic businessthere’s nothing there.”
What complicates matters in this case is media misunderstanding of conservative ideology (a good argument, then, for Tennessean columnist Tim Chavez’s weekly efforts to shed light on it). Gilstrap & Co. aren’t all the wide-eyed, Bible-thumping, teetotaling, preacher-panderers the media elite think they are. They are generally reasonable people working within the scope of established political reality. They aren’t doing anything on the their end of the spectrum that their opponents haven’t done on the left.
To further complicate matters, the anti-lottery campaign payroll includes GOP consultant Steve Brumfield, who also aided the so-called Tennessee Forum during the last presidential election. That’s the group of self-described “soccer dads” who ran advertisements saying that Al Gore was a mere shell of the man he was when Tennesseans first elected him to Congress back in 1976. The anti-Gore credential Brumfield holds is fodder for Democrats to peddle the idea that the anti-lottery campaign is wicked.
If the collective media want to poke some holes in the alliance’s campaign, it should get off internal-document-gate. It should instead ask Gilstrap & Co. why a collection of fiscal conservatives who trumpet personal responsibility and less government intrusionand who bristle at the smugness of liberals who think they know what’s best for peoplewant to deny the state’s citizens the choice of buying lottery tickets. That intellectual inconsistency is a much stronger indictment of their case than the idea that they hired a political consultant.
Briley endorses Cooper
Metro Council member David Briley, who backed out of the 5th District congressional race for Bob Clement’s seat, said on Teddy Bart’s Roundtable this week that he plans to support former 4th District Congressman Jim Cooper instead of any of the other myriad candidates running, including his Metro Council colleague Ronnie Steine.
“I’ve met with them all, and I’ve talked to them all, and I have made a decision that I’m going to be behind Jim Cooper in the race,” the first-term council member said. “They’re all very well qualified, but I think that Congress right now is in a very important period, and I think it’s transitional in some senses.” He went on to explain that electing someone with congressional experience would be wise.
“I like the way that Jim addresses issues. I like the fact that he will look closely at all of the facts and apply his intellect to them,” he said.
Just how this race will go is anyone’s guess, but the theory of the week is that Cooper, who is very conservative and a favorite of the well-heeled set, will be most hurt by his Republican backers and other conservative Democrats who vote in the GOP primary, where there are spirited campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, Sheriff Gayle Ray, who’s also running for the congressional seat, appears not to have figured out precisely why she’s running, doesn’t have much of a political organization to rely on, and has no personal wealth if her fund raising doesn’t come through. State Rep. John Arriola (whose campaign is being managed by this columnist’s cousin, Marshall Brandt) is regarded as a well-meaning guy and a Clement confidant, but he nevertheless has some serious catching up to do in terms of introducing himself to voters outside of his district.
All of that bodes well for Vice Mayor Ronnie Steine, who, ironically, probably has the most negatives going into the race. That’s because, of all the candidates, his voting record and positions on local issues are the best known.
Fry 'em. The bastards deserve it. I have absolutely no pity for murderers, drug dealers…
The gentrification of East Nashville has done great harm to less-wealthy individuals in the area…
Nashville's a great town, but Memphis wins this contest, if contest it is. Staking a…
The desire for vengeance in those so wronged by the perpetrators of such heinous crimes…
So it seems this state is just doomed. If there is no one who will…