Thursday, June 5, 2008

Silly, silly TN Democrats

Gov. Phil Bredesen took a gigantic leap of faith yesterday in using his superdelegate vote to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.

And that was only 12 hours after Obama had claimed the presumptive nomination following news media tabulations in a worldwide speech from St. Paul, MN.

Bredesen, with a straight face in this down-home Profile in Courage, told a lemming-like TV news media that he was working to unify the party behind Obama and spoke with guarded optimism of the chances of the Democratic ticket in Tennessee.

The whole farce of a gathering at Swett's was something out of a Saturday Night Live skit, yet these Democratic Party leaders were quite serious in their gathering. I've sat next to state Dem party chair Gray Sasser on Bob Mueller's TV panels. He seems like a real intelligent guy. And he has got great hair.

But Tennessee Democrats act in such a strange and hypocritical fashion. And their conduct, or perhaps lack of direction in their conduct, builds credibility under their TN GOP counterparts and their chief muckraker Bill Hobbs. (And Bill, I use the word "muckraker" in its affectionate, historical journalistic term.)

The national news media is learning, as the local media has only caught on this year, that Bredesen is only about Bredesen. The governor, in selling his immediately scoffed-at superdelgate gathering earlier this spring, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he was going to have a tough time selling either Clinton or Obama in Tennessee. He recounted a Deliverance-like experience in a restaurant booth somewhere in SE Tennessee in which the four inhabitants asked if he was going to be supporting Hillary or the "Hussein" guy. Bredesen didn't mention anyone squealing like a pig at this poignant political encounter or the proficiency of the local establishment's banjo playing.

Tennessee Democrats, no matter if Bredesen is chasing his own tail to cover his own tail, are going to follow along. And it doesn't matter how silly the party looks. In the long run, however, it's terribly unfortunate for the most vulnerable in Tennessee that this state does not have a strong two-party system. It's also tough because Democrats here have only a slight resemblance to those on the regional or national scene, so you don't know who to turn to for help.

I can't close without at least giving Bredesen and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh credit for blocking some incredibly nonsensical anti-immigrant bills coming from members of their own party and Tennessee Republicans. The one bill that would have required only English be spoken in the workplace would have negated the conviction of serial killer Paul Dennis Reid if it were the law several years ago. The only testimony that put Reid at the scene of murders at a local McDonalds was delivered by a Hispanic man who testified IN SPANISH to a Tennessee jury.

Yes, I realize that Bredesen may only be protecting the business lobby and not out of any sense of moral standing behind undocumented workers and their families. But you've got to take whatever political support you can get when it comes to the national persecution of people who like me and my abuelos.

Consider the case of Tennessee Democrat and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper. He joined with Republican congressional notables Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn in toasting the first year performance of the heinous 287(g) deportation program in Davidson County. The program originally was sold to the public to get criminals deported out of the undocumented population in Davidson County.

Now it has morphed into deporting all undocumented people, most who have had no criminal record at all. The only offense they commit is driving without a seatbelt or fishing without a license, and Poof, they're arrested and deported. Now, no one remembers the original promise to deport only the criminal element. And there's Jim Cooper backing this outrage on a Nashville stage with Blackburn and Alexander. I'm still waiting for an explanation from Cooper's office for that big mistake. Perhaps it's time for Nashville Democrats and liberals to begin searching for Cooper's replacement by the 2010 primary race. He has been in Washington long enough.

Tennessee Democrats are making it so easy for Hobbs and Tennessee Republicans. More ridiculous PR events like the gathering at Swett's won't require the TNGOP to break much of a sweat all the way into November.

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