Saturday, July 27, 2002

Roosevelt Has Left the Building

Richard Locker, Nashville bureau chief of the CA, wrote this column last Tuesday, riffing on his opinions on the State Legislature, the changeover sure to come next session and Teddy Roosevelt. As always with the CA, it's mostly repetition of the usual fabrications they want you to believe.

Apparently, he's been reading the Edmund Morris book, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Locker seems to long for a new Roosevelt to ride into the corrupted and weak Legislature to sort it out and then reform it. He unfortunately picks a bad quote, mentioning "sodden...Irish," but we'll let that go. The point is that the Legislature "has become dysfunctional."

There's no question that Naifeh and Rochelle screwed it up pretty badly this year, but I somehow don't think that's Locker's point.

Even so, the legislature has become dysfunctional. The tax fight
didn't create its structural problems; it mere ly brought them into
public view.

The underlying dysfunction...

What else can you call a Senate Finance
Committee that sat moribund through most of this year's
six-month-long session, despite state government's biggest
financial crisis in decades, content to let its more ambitious
counterpart in the House take the lead in investigating tax plans
and spending cuts?

Last things first. WHAT spending cuts? Naifeh and Sundquist made it clear that the only spending cuts they'd allow were to be of the Armageddon type. And the Finance Committee is chaired by Mr. IT himself Robert Rochelle. Senators Blackburn and Person, for two, tried to investigate spending cuts and were shut down by Rochelle. They gave up because it was clear Rochelle was only going to allow an IT plan. He was waiting for Naifeh to get the votes in line in the House; that was the plan!

Locker goes on to list all the symptoms of this year's problems and the visible effects, but never actually tells us what that dysfunction is. It's left to the reader to draw the conclusion that we need good ol' TR:

Roosevelt emerged in his first year
as a leader, sparking an investigation of a profitable scheme by a
state's attorney, a Supreme Court judge and a leading financier
to bleed a foundering corporation of its assets. By the end of the
session that spring, he was a household name statewide.

Somehow, I don't think Locker really wants that kind of investigation into say, the wife of Speaker Naifeh, who is a highly paid Capitol Hill lobbyist, or the many seeming sweetheart deals that Sundquist seems to have cut, or the behavior of some legislators on their off time. Only Senator John Ford seems to rate that, but it seems both pro-forma and personal for the CA these days.

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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