Paralysis

Mike Turner and Curry Todd
This isn’t what I wanted to write about today. In fact, this isn’t what I want to write about any day.

But after seeing the manner in which this issue has been handled, I’ve got to say something.

Of course, everyone has heard about the arrest of TN State Rep. Curry Todd – Collierville for driving drunk, and with a loaded pistol to boot. I don’t really have much to say about this situation except that I’m glad that no one was physically injured and that my thoughts and prayers are with his family, who are certainly suffering as a result of his irresponsible actions.

This is a story dripping with irony. Sponsor of “Guns in Bars” caught drunk with loaded gun. I mean, you couldn’t make up a better story line. Some say you shouldn’t kick a man while he’s down. That’s not what this is. This is pointing out hypocrisy.

The story, which I first saw online at 5:30am, received no official response from any Democratic institution until a 4:15pm press release by the TNDP. By then, national news outlets had picked up the story.

At 4:55pm the first statement from Todd hit the wires. The tenor of that statement should come as no surprise to anyone.

Then, this morning the Tennessean publishes an article about the political consequences of Todd’s actions. In it, House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner said this:

House GOP leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said Todd has done a “good job” as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee and that he “certainly” hopes Todd can keep the post. Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, agreed.

“I think he’s one of the best chairmen we have up there,” said Turner, D-Old Hickory. “I’m not going to beat somebody up for making a mistake. I don’t think you’ll ever see him get in this situation again.”

What? This wasn’t a mistake, this was a choice. A massive life threatening choice. You would think that Turner, a fireman, would get that. Instead, he seems to be glossing it over as if he accidentally rear-ended someone while following too close, which would be a mistake.

This is one of many disappointments that I’ve had with both Democratic Caucuses. They both seem to be operating out of fear. Through that fear they have taken incumbency protection (the primary goal of the caucuses) to a new level. Now they’re protecting incumbents regardless of party. Good going guys.

I can’t wait for the next Republican scandal to break and see the response from the Caucus. Infidelity will be a “misunderstanding”, tax fraud will be “a mathematical error”, murder or maiming will be a “lapse in judgement”.

What is the appropriate response to what happened? Here’s a suggestion:

The (insert name of organization/leader here) gave the following statement regarding the arrest of Rep. Curry Todd on Drunk Driving and gun charges:

“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to lead by example. Curry Todd chose to drive while intoxicated and carry a loaded firearm last night. This is unacceptable behavior for anyone, particularly an individual elected to represent the people of Shelby County.”

“It is our hope that as Rep. Todd proceeds through the criminal court process that he is treated no differently than any other member of society accused of these crimes. If he is convicted, he should receive no preferential treatment or leniency. Holding public office cannot be a “Get out of jail free” card.”

“Regardless of the outcome, we hope Rep. Todd gets the treatment he needs to recover from this lapse in judgement. We also wish his family the best as they deal with the embarrassment of Rep. Todd’s irresponsibility.”

Is that perfect? No. I just came up with it in 5 minutes. Why didn’t I call for his removal from his chairmanship? That’s not my call to make, though it would seem like an appropriate response from a House GOP leadership.

What did Turner do? Make excuses. Hell, even Ron Ramsey is calling for “zero tolerance” for Todd, why can’t we?

At least the TNDP was a little closer, though the thought of a Democrat making demands on the Republican Speaker of the House is a little over the top, but at least they did something!

The point is, we shouldn’t be afraid of calling something what it is. This was irresponsible, careless, foolish, and two illegal acts. Ignoring that is irresponsible.

I’m only going to say this once… Either you’re fighting, or you’re fleeing. If you don’t have the stomach to fight anymore, maybe you should hang it up. We’ll never win as long as we allow the fear of something that “might” happen to paralyze us.

Edited to add:The TN Jobs Tour, which was recently held by the caucuses was a huge positive for them. I commend them for addressing an issue that the GOP still doesn’t have any idea what to do about. That doesn’t excuse this action, and the deafening silence by just about everyone but Mike Turner during the last session. Which is what makes this that much more perplexing.

4 thoughts

  1. Disagree with you completely, Steve, and I’m gonna defend my state Rep. Mike Turner on this one. Liberals are people who believe that everyone deserves a second chance.

    Curry Todd will, indeed, have a very tough time with his own constituents. Folks like Ron Ramsey (talk about hypocrites!) might want to give Todd zero tolerance, but we’re dealing here with a man who obviously has been publicly humiliated (by his own actions) and who probably needs some time to face his consequences and think about how he’ll respond.

    The headline is pretty simple and straightforward: Republican State Rep who Sponsored Pro-Gun Legislation Found Drunk with Gun in Car.

    The story tells itself.

    But let’s not forget folks like Rob Briley, who was not too long ago involved in his own catastrophically embarrassing situation. Remember that David Briley, Rob’s brother, is the District 20 Democratic Party Executive Committeeman and someone who understands the sensitivity and respect we should have for those with drinking problems.

    There but for the grace of God go I…. at least Briley got treatment. Hopefully Todd will do what he needs to do and make the most of his second chance – if he gets one.

    1. Ben,

      I don’t have a problem with second chances, but that’s not what this is about. This is about choices…poor choices. Todd CHOSE to drive drunk with a loaded weapon. He chose this rather than calling a cab, or having a friend drive him home. This was not a mistake, this was a choice.

      We elect people to make choices for us in the legislature. When the choices they make show poor judgement that has a negative impact on society we have every right to question the whole franchise of their leadership. Certainly, it seems that others elected to make choices should recognize that rather than minimize the situation by calling it a “mistake”.

      This choice could have had devastating consequences well beyond Curry Todd. As a member of the legislature he should know that. As a leader, he should know better.

      I hate to say I agree with Ron Ramsey, because that makes my head hurt, but I agree with Ron Ramsey. The TNGA cannot endorse, actively or passively, this behavior.

      Once he’s paid his debt to society, I’ll be ready to talk about second chances…but that ain’t right now.

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