Pot for the Inner Ear. Who among us hasn’t repeatedly used marijuana for a pesky inner-ear “ailment,” anyway? That’s the excuse Chancellor Gordon Gee and his wife Constance gave Board of Trust members and others for the Vanderbilt first lady’s toking at the university mansion, according to Tuesday’s explosive—and long-awaited—Wall Street Journal story. Though the story focused much of its girth on Chancellor Gee’s well known propensity for spending—accompanied by record-breaking fundraising and improvement in the school’s academic standing, to be fair—and the Board of Trust’s recent efforts to ensure that he’s accountable for them, it’s the latest lapse in judgment by Constance Gee that has tongues wagging. “In the fall of 2005, university employees discovered that Constance Gee, a tenured associate professor of public policy and education, kept marijuana at Braeburn and was using it there, according to people familiar with the matter,” the story says. “A few weeks later, several trustees and a senior university official confronted Mr. Gee in his office, telling the chancellor he shared responsibility for allowing marijuana on university property, the person familiar with the situation recalls. Trembling, the chancellor replied, ‘I’ve been worried to death over this,’ according to this person. Mr. Gee said his wife smoked marijuana to relieve an inner-ear ailment, this person says. The Gees decline to comment on the incident. Mrs. Ingram, Vanderbilt’s board chairman, formally reprimanded Mrs. Gee for possessing and using the illegal drug. The matter was ‘handled appropriately and satisfactorily,’ says Mrs. Ingram.”
Political Déjà Vu. State Sen. Jim Bryson’s gubernatorial TV attack ad, showing the Republican holding a mouse-sized Phil Bredesen in the palm of his hand, is not only lame, it’s also eerily similar to a failed ad campaign former GOP Congressman Robin Beard unleashed on Jim Sasser in the 1982 U.S. Senate race. In the Beard ad, a plastic wind-up mouse is shown doing back flips on a table, while an ominous voice defines Sasser as a flip-flopper on issues. The ad, like Bryson’s, was supposed to be humorous and memorable. Instead, it became a textbook example of botched messaging and what can happen to a candidate when he goes negative before he’s even defined himself. Beard, like Bryson, failed to establish his credibility before going goofy with the negative stuff. Sasser crushed him with over 60 percent of the vote. So look out, Jim Bryson. Your ad, incidentally, makes little sense. Many things can be said of Gov. Bredesen, but being small-minded isn’t one of them. Intellect is his hallmark. Some who know you in the Senate don’t say the same about you.
The Metro school board’s final decision on a new school uniform policy is still at least a week away, but students may soon be wishing they had already joined the khaki-clad army of polo-shirted clones.