Monday, November 17, 2008

Take Five--Tennessee Titan Analogy Edition

1. From Tom Humphrey:

The current chairman of the budget subcommittee is Democratic Rep. Harry Tindell of Knoxville, who, by the way, does not like the panel's "black hole" nickname. When [Rep. Stacey] Campfield was suggested as a possible successor conversationally the other day, he shrugged his shoulders in rather philosophical fashion.

"I think people rise to the occasion when they are placed in a position of responsibility," he said. "Things have a way of falling into place."

I am no fan of Campfield's, but--and this is something I was hoping to get around to last week but didn't, in no small part because he reminded me (yet again) what a dunderhead he can be--I say most definitely make him chairman of something. Campfield is not a guy with a lot of grey area, so you've got to figure one of just two things are going to happen when he's actually given real responsibilty for governing:

Possibility 1: He completely flames out. Spectacularly so.

Possibility 2: He actually rises to the occasion and does a bang-up job.

Don't dismiss Possibility 2! When Campfield gets mind focused on something, he can be quite effective. (Whether you might want him to be effective at what he's trying to do may be another story.) Having him take the reins of some underperforming committee or subcommittee may be exactly what's needed to whip it into shape. He also appears to have no real life whatsoever outside of (as Humphrey calls it) Legislatorland, so he'll have all the time and energy in the world to do some good if he is so inclined. Added benefit: with actual repsonsibility on his plate, he won't have as much time to annoy the leadership from the backbenches. Sometimes, like, say, Kerry Collins, you just need to be put in the right situation to finally grow up and and act like an adult.

But what about Possibility 1? Couldn't he screw up royally? Yes. But so what? It's just a committee chairmanship. The fate of the free world does not hinge on much of anything the Tennessee House of Representatives does. And, anyway, the power of the Speaker's office can effectuate any mop-up work that may be needed if things go horribly awry. Plus, if Campfield does indeed screw up, Speaker Mumpower can say to Campfield's enablers fan club something along the lines of "Hey, I gave him a shot. He blew it. Can't blame me." And move on.

Tennessee survived Brenda Turner as a legislative chairperson. It can survive a Chairman Campfield, too.

2. You know, while the current Tennessee Republican Party leadership most certainly deserves its share of the credit for getting the party to majority status, there were a lot of people before them working to get things to this point. There was a time, for instance, when only one person--the terrific Bill Dunn--was the only Republican House member with the guts to publicly vote against Jimmy Naifeh as speaker while everyone else--including Jason Mumpower--timidly hit their little green "Yes" buttons. And many others have done yeoman's work at the party offices over the last two decades, toiling in obscurity, but also slowly and surely making very real progress.

The current party leadership is like LenDale White: it gets the credit for punching the ball over the goal line. But it was the Chris Johnsons of the party that got the ball all the way down the field in the first place. The current folks would be wise to remember that.

3. Goofy Tennesseean headline of the day: "Bankruptcies snuff out Tenn. small businesses." Well, yes, bankruptcies often have a way of doing that.

4. Why did Barack Obama win? When a mere 12% of the population "strongly approves" of the imcumbent president, and that incumbent president is a member of the other party, that can grease the skids pretty well. One thing to watch for: what happens when W. leaves the scene?

5. Good review for the Obamas on 60 Minutes.