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If anyone has any remaining doubts about the utter ineptitude of Tennessee's Democrats, let us enlighten you. Today Mike McWherter, who's been running a sleepy little campaign for governor for a year now, finally bestirred himself to try to make news. He called out Bill Haslam
for refusing to disclose all his income or to agree to put his Pilot Corp. holdings into a blind trust if he's elected governor.
As campaign gambits go, it wasn't bad. It seemed likely to grab a few headlines for McWherter, putting him on the side of full public disclosure and transparency. At the same time, he could look right past Kim McMillan, his last remaining Democratic rival, toward his likely Republican opponent, and he could appear like the front-runner for his party's nomination, which is what he is.
McWherter's campaign even managed to put out a press release to alert reporters to this momentous event, which occurred this afternoon at a Tennessee Chamber of Commerce meeting.
There was only one problem. A few minutes before McWherter's appearance, Gov. Phil Bredesen spoke at the same meeting and talked with reporters afterward. (Uh-oh.) Guess what? The governor dismissed the whole Haslam disclosure issue as phony, making McWherter and the Democrats look foolish yet again.
"I actually think he's on pretty sound ground there because you could put Pilot in all the blind trusts you want, but it's not going to be blind," the governor said of Haslam. "It's owned by his family. He probably has to sign documents from time to time related to it. In a way, the issue of blind trust and Pilot is kind of a fake issue. I don't know how you could put it in a blind trust is the reality."
We don't think Bredesen knew that McWherter was about to criticize Haslam over this. So the governor didn't purposely diss McWherter. But that begs the question: why didn't somebody in the McWherter campaign think to give the governor a heads up? And maybe Bredesen should have anticipated that some Democrat sometime might want to beat up Haslam over this. Of Tennessee Democrats, this is all too much to ask.