As usual, their arguments were so incoherent it was hard to tell who was on which side of this important issue.
We did manage to ascertain that Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, an octogenarian who sometimes seems to think he’s still living in the Reconstruction Era, is adamantly against flag bearers dipping the Tennessee flag in the presence of the U.S. flag. It was Henry, a states’ rights champion, who insisted that senators begin this year to recite a “Salute to the Tennessee flag” before each session after they pledge allegiance to the United States.
Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, seized the opportunity of this debate to teach his colleagues a little more about history. Yesterday, he told us all about how Abe Lincoln loved cockfighting—a tale that amused senators to no end but turned out to be fictional, unfortunately. Today, the topic was Robert E. Lee, and we have no idea whether it’s true.
“What did Abraham Lincoln think about this?” Senate speaker Ron Ramsey asked Niceley.
“Well it’s Robert E. Lee,” Niceley said. “Robert E. Lee was a Virginian first and an American second. And that’s why they couldn’t try him for treason. They couldn’t try Robert E. Lee for treason because he was loyal to his home state. … If Robert E. Lee was a Virginian first and an American second, I’m a Tennessean first and an American second.”