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.
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.