Stephen George's cover story in today's City Paper on DemGub hopeful Mike McWherter strains a bit to pitch McWherter's bid as a weighty and significant one, but it's an uphill case to make given the actual campaign we've been watching. George calls McWherter's small-bore jobs plan "a very serious idea" and also points to the rather pedestrian "tandem idea" that Tennessee's next governor should be luring investment by industries that can complement existing big-name manufacturers such as Volkswagen and Nissan.
Is this enough to justify the cover tease — "McWherter is a good, decent man with serious ideas"? Many would say that a candidate with serious ideas doesn't fecklessly insinuate — what exactly? — in a campaign ad observing that Bill Haslam's oil company "imports oil from socialist Venezuela" (the fifth largest exporter of crude oil to the U.S.). Others would point out that a good, decent man doesn't get behind a ban on gay adoption. And let's not even talk about the Iran thing.
Noting that few Democrats outside the McWherter campaign are willing to speak on the record about how it's going, George wryly concludes that "the party seems to be happy with the McWherter effort thus far." Few would doubt that McWherter is a nice enough fellow with good intentions, and the CP piece shows that George is under no illusions regarding the empty prospects for a McWherter victory. Even so, a cover story framing a candidate for statewide office as a man of "serious ideas" should not so easily overlook the loopier things coming out of the man's campaign.