And that someone needs to be former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell in announcing his intention to run for governor in 2010. Start collecting the campaign donations. Get the bumper stickers printed. Create a website.
Things with Tennessee Democrats have really gotten embarrassing and offensive. Every state should have at least a strong two-party system to offer voters a choice. But all that's available in Tennessee is Republican conservative and a Democrat with a prominent elephant's trunk.
On a statewide platform, that only leaves Purcell and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen as leaders representing a true and progressive Democrat besides a needed choice for Tennesseans.
The Lincoln Davis dust-up -- originally reported by The City Paper and its star political reporter John Rodgers -- is just the latest pie-in-the-face moment for Tennessee Democrats. If you've been on Mars or in Oklahoma for the past week as I've been, you missed U.S. Rep. Davis' refusal to endorse Sen. Barack Obama until the convention later this summer. You also missed Fred Hobbs of the state Democratic Party's executive committee citing possible terrorist ties to Obama. And Davis' spokesperson replied that he didn't know if Obama had terrorist connections, but assumed not. Chief of Staff Beecher Fraiser later amended his statement to say he was now sure Obama didn't have terrorist ties. He must have Googled "Obama" and "terrorist".
If all this mess wasn't bad enough, the state party then had the idiocy of issuing a statement criticizing the Republicans for making note and fun of the obvious dysfunction in the Democratic Party. The ridiculous statement even summoned the ghost of Richard Nixon to try and spin the Davis & Friends embarrassment. Sorry, Gray, but you don't have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore.
GOP muckraker Bill Hobbs, a fine blogger and opportunistic political mind, couldn't have made this kind of stuff up to do more damage to Tennessee Democrats.
Now before anyone thinks that Davis is just an oddity among Democrats, consider that Gov. Phil Bredesen already told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton would be a hard sell in Tennessee. He recounted a Deliverance-like encounter with four men in a booth in an east Tennessee eatery. Where I come from, four men don't sit together in a booth so we can maintain our masculine distance. Perhaps these quadruplets were Metrosexuals.
Bredesen calls himself a Democrat, but he really is a DINO, a Democrat In Name Only and a Flintstones' dinosaur when it comes to progressive public policy.
Nashville, where Bredesen served as mayor and still lives, should be the home of progressive politics. It has Vanderbilt University, which features a politically involved student body and brilliant academic and medical minds. North and east Nashville have a strong African-American history and presence, built around great places of worship and courageous leaders like the Rev. Enoch Fuzz of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church. Then there are universities like TSU and Fisk and Meharry medical school.
So why is this progressive place represented by someone like U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, who was on stage earlier this year with "Congressman Marsha Blackburn" and Sen. Lamar Alexander. They touted the effectiveness of the heinous 287(g) deportation programs aimed at tearing apart Hispanic working families. Cooper nor anyone with the state Democratic Party has offered an explanation for his outrageous presence. The supposed Nashville Democrat should just cede his seat over to Blackburn so that taxpayers can at least save on staff costs.
Where is the fire and passion that should be part of progressive politics, ensuring our community is only as strong as the care and help we provide to the weakest among us? Al Gore rightly is focused globally and actually is in a position to be more effective than a president of the United States in saving the world. So don't expect him to waste time on something so small as saving the Tennessee Democratic Party to his already lofty task.
Tragically, Rep. Davis is considering a run for governor, which will further dilute the Democratic Party brand in Tennessee. On the GOP side, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will probably run and win unless a real Democrat and a real choice for voters can be found.
Purcell is the only choice. He distinguished himself as a different Democrat following the fiscal foolishness of the Bredesen years. He returned government to neighborhoods and schools, putting them first on the budget priority list. Michael Dell and Bud Adams had to wait their turn. Purcell also carries the important Vanderbilt connection with his work there between serving in the General Assembly and running for mayor.
Cohen also is a Democrat of distinction, but he has to first survive the Ford political machine again in Memphis and win re-election this November. Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who lost in his bid for the U.S. Senate, has been talking up Bredesen as a running mate for Obama. And we thought his relative in the state Senate was a tad peculiar. Sadly, Bredesen even thinks he is on Obama's short list of potential running mates. How can someone who kicked so many people off TennCare -- resulting in deaths -- be the running mate for a lead candidate who wants to provide a path toward universal health care?Help cannot come too soon for Tennessee Democrats and the people of this state who need a sane and real choice at the ballot box. Besides, why make Bill Hobbs and the GOP's job so easy in 2008?