This morning's two-hour "electronic town hall" meeting (on Steve Gill's radio show
) with the three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate was a predictable "I'm more conservative than you are" festival, with a healthy dose of "Bob Corker is a radical leftist" thrown in for good measure.
Much of the first hour was pretty much a taxophobic support group, with each trying to show that they hate taxes more than any other human who has ever roamed the planet. This inane take on public policy raises problems for Bob Corker, because unlike the other two he actually ran a city as mayor. Even the most fiscally conservative mayors know that sometimes you have to raise local taxes, especially when state and federal governments make policies of their own that increase local government burdens.
Corker faced relentless attacks from his opponents for raising the property tax as mayor of Chattanooga. Because he has allowed himself to be cornered into this right-wing anti-tax obsession, Corker finds himself on the defensive when Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant tee off on him. Corker's lame response is to pick out an obscure vote or two from Hilleary's or Bryant's Congressional past and say "see, you raised taxes too."
The right answer would be: Look, you two pissants have never run anything. It's easy to stick to some vacuous anti-tax pledge when you're one of 435 votes in a legislature. But when you're mayor of a city, with vital public services like schools, roads, and law enforcement that depend on public funding, you have to make tough calls about budgets that sometimes require tax increases, and you have to make them all by yourself.
At the end of the lengthy exchange on taxes, Steve Gill asked all three: "Are you ruling out tax increases of any kind?" Each was quick with an "absolutely" response. Predictable, sure, but still idiotic. Just as predictable was their unanimous chorus of simplistic rejections of gay rights, flag burning, immigration reform, and reproductive rights. Zero nuance, zero thoughtfulness, just kneejerk far-right conservatism.
I've heard some liberals say they'd like Corker to get the nomination because he's the reasonable one, so if Harold Ford loses we'll have a moderate in the Senate instead of a hard right loon. But this primary race is turning that into a fantasy. Corker is allowing his GOP opponents to corner him into firm policy commitments to act and vote, if elected, just as hard-right as either of them would. It really makes no difference
for the state of the republic which of these three clones gets the nomination. If you want Ford in the Senate, pull for the Republican he has the best chance of defeating ֠and that's probably the feckless Hilleary.