That's been especially true since Odom gave that unfortunate interview to the Memphis Flyer in which he cast Jimmy Naifeh as a doddering old fool. And it didn't help that the governor dissed Odom by giving his package of legislation to others to shepherd through the House. This session when Democratic leadership was required, it always seemed to be Naifeh, or caucus chair Mike Turner, or Finance Committee chair Craig Fitzhugh who stepped up. Now there's new evidence suggesting Democrats have disowned Odom.
What happens when House Democrats throw a big media event and their leader doesn't show up? We found out today. Democrats preened before the TV cameras to trash Republicans and beat their chests over their victories in the just-passed state budget. It was their big moment. Turner thanked Fitzhugh, Naifeh, Lois DeBerry, Harry Tindell and even lowly legislative staffers, but never mentioned the name of Odom.
What the hell? we asked Turner.
"Gary was very instrumental in what we did," he quickly replied. "He's our leader and he's a good man."
Where is he? we asked.
"I don't know. I tried to call him. He probably had to work. Most of us have other jobs besides this. Don't read anything into this. He was very instrumental in what we did."
We ran into Naifeh in the hall and asked him about the House leadership situation. He praised Turner and Fitzhugh. What about Odom? we asked. "What else do you have?" Naifeh replied with a sly smile. "You know my grandpa used to say, if you can't say something nice about somebody, don't say anything at all."