Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oatney Misses the Point: Haslam is Still Cozy with Campfield

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 9:37 AM

Can you guess which twin chooses Stacey Campfield?
  • "Can you guess which twin chooses Stacey Campfield?"
I don't know how many of you saw the gubernatorial debate Tuesday night, but it went a little something like this.

"Unlike you, Bill, I hate mountain-top removal mining.'

"I hate mountain-top removal mining, too, Mike."

"And I hate price-gouging."

"Yeah, well, I was mayor."

"Well, I believe in the people of Tennessee!"

"I know a lot, because I was mayor, and your sunny optimism doesn't pay the bills, Mike."

"Let's not fight. You're right about a lot of things."

"Oh, fine, you're right about a lot of things, too."

"You have very pretty hair."

"And you have a beautiful, shiny tie."

"We're the best, aren't we?"

"Yes, yes we are."

I was surprised they didn't break out into "They're cousins! Identical cousins. They laugh alike and walk alike. At times they even talk alike." So how is a regular person supposed to decide who to vote for?

David Oatney's right. I'm probably not as knowledgeable about politics as he is. I'm certainly not as well-connected. I'm sure that if I ran for State Senate, no one, not even my primary opponent, Thelma Harper, would know who I was.

That's fine with me. I don't have political aspirations, unlike quaking Oatney.

But here's the thing — I am a regular person, and like most people in this state, I have to make my decision based on the evidence I have at hand. And the evidence is that if Bill Haslam will lend a helping hand to Stacey Campfield, a near-loon who's advanced some of the ugliest legislative pushes of recent years, he's aligning himself with the nut-job end of the party.

But hey, that's cool, Oatney says — you know and I know and my Republican insider buddies know he's just doing it so he can rake in favors when elected.

Oh. That makes it waaay more honorable.

There's a lot about McWherter I disagree with, but McWherter isn't raising money for a guy who has spent his tenure in the House trying to garner national headlines with his doofus legislation and bizarre antics.

Even if I agreed with every position Campfield held (and granted, I do not), I at least would have grave concerns about his ability to do his job after his eccentric behavior at the infamous football game last year, not to mention his habit of randomly parking on sidewalks when it suits him.

When you have two candidates who are very similar, you have to use the information you have at hand in order to make decisions. And the information is, Haslam is happy to raise money for Campfield. Like it or not, that tells voters something about the people Haslam pictures as appropriate leaders for Tennessee.

You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Oatney can spin it as a pragmatic wheel-and-deal, but that too says something about Haslam that voters need to know. When Campfield and the General Assembly's far-right firebrands start piling the next governor's desk with bills — bills that, if last session is any indication, will have the potential to make Tennessee a nationwide laughingstock — what's Haslam going to do? Stand up for reason, common sense and prudent governance? Or rubber-stamp some ripe piece of garbage, in hopes it'll pay off later when he needs to cut a back-room deal?

We don't know. What we do know is that Haslam helped Stacey Campfield raise money.

You raise money for Campfield, it's because you think he's leadership material, and at some point you'll need to get in bed with him. (Note to self: Erase mental image by any means necessary.) And there's less than two months between now and the election. I don't think even Oatney has time to write individualized columns dripping with condescension to every perplexed Tennessee voter, explaining how stupid they are to wonder whether they want a governor who's so cozy with Campfield.

That's something Haslam's going to have to answer for on his own.

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