The Obama 'spook' adventure
You might say Sherri Goforth, an executive assistant for state Sen. Diane Black, has an interesting sense of humor. Late last month, she sent out a mass email with the subject line "Historical Keepsake Photo." It contained a collage of U.S. president photos. But where Barack Obama should have been, it merely showed a pair of spooked white eyes against a black background. Get it? Spooked?
When the email came to light, Goforth launched into swift backpedaling. She didn't actually apologize for sending the email from a state computer. She did, however, apologize for sending it to the wrong group of people—people who apparently didn't get her sense of humor.
As outrage simmered on Capitol Hill, Sen. Black threw herself into damage control. Goforth was reprimanded, with a letter placed in her permanent record. The senator also claimed that Goforth's actions did "not reflect my opinions or my beliefs."
Black went on to explain her history as a friend of dark-skinned people everywhere, saying she "reached out to people all over this world" during her time as a nurse. She cited trips to Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala to deliver humanitarian aid. And if that wasn't enough, she also noted how her family once hosted a Brazilian exchange student.
But to Capitol watchers, the incident had an eerie familiarity. Pith was reminded of the time former GOP chairwoman and current congressional candidate Robin Smith once defended herself against accusations of bigotry by saying she took her son's black friend on a beach vacation. After all, the list of Republican faux pas is getting a little long.
Last fall, they sent out a mailer depicting a black candidate as a blackbird. Then there's the infamous "Barack the Magic Negro CD," and the "Barack Hussein Obama" press release. But Sen. Black saw no recurring motif in these series of incidents. "That is just silly," she scoffed.
Democratic Rep. Johnny Shaw of Bolivar was of a slightly different mind. "It's racism. And no one has any business being in state government that is a racist such as this. She should be fired." Caleb Hannan & Jeff Woods
John Rich for governor?
John Rich announced on Larry King Live last week that he may run for governor. It would seem an odd grasp at the spotlight for Nashville's favorite drunk, since it would require him to explain a serial penchant for getting hammered and generally making an ass of himself.
First there's the assault charge filed by former Nashville Star contestant Jared Ashley, who claims Rich punched him in the face and left rambling, drunken messages on his phone with the help of Sebastian Bach. (Never mind the punch or the messages. The man actually seems to enjoy the company of Sebastian Bach, which should automatically disqualify him for public office.)
Then there's the recent incident at Cafe Coco, where Rich reportedly tossed a beer bottle after a waiter attempted to cut him off at 3 a.m.
Then there's the affidavit by former bodyguard Robert Smith, who accuses Rich of general conflict-seeking, bullying and severe assholery.
Although a Governor Rich would certainly be entertaining—prospective headline: "Hammered Governor Jumps Into Cage At Mixed Martial Arts Event"—we're guessing there are so many skeletons in this guy's closet that he'd need a team of morticians on call 24/7. Brantley Hargrove
Ron Ramsey, bumbler-in-chief
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is desperately trying to paint himself as the right-of-Mussolini candidate in the upcoming Republican gubernatorial primary. So when Gov. Phil Bredesen sent his budget to the legislature, Ramsey responded with scorched-earth cuts to play up his bona fides as fiscally responsible. Unfortunately, they came off as downright crazy.
Not only did Ramsey slash things like prenatal care—those damn welfare embryos!—but he also killed funding for the Haywood County industrial megasite, one of the state's biggest job creation ventures. Now, even Tennessee's normally staid daily press is wondering if we have a nut on our hands.
In a scorching editorial, the Chattanooga Times Free Press called Ramsey's cuts "mind-boggling," "inane and reckless," and "flatly cruel." The paper further asserts that Ramsey is mounting his campaign on the backs of everyday Tennesseans:"Something else is afoot here: It smells like an effort to inflate Lt. Gov. and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey's conservative credentials for the GOP gubernatorial primary race next year. Gov. Phil Bredesen used the word 'stupid' to describe the Ramsey bloc's proposed cuts, and he's correct." Jeff Woods
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