Wednesday, August 07, 2002

The Crone Speaks

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. Long after the horse is dead, the corpse cold and everyone else gone to the next race, Susan Adler Thorp continues to kick the dead horse furiously, screaming epithets all the while.

Of her last eight editorials, four--fully half--have been dedicated to bashing, slandering, abusing, demeaning and ridiculing former Republican candidate George Flinn. All the while, she moans and gnashes her teeth about negative campaigning. Today's column is the capper. Here we go:

Three years ago he was dissuaded from running against Willie Herenton
for mayor of Memphis. When county Republican Party leaders were
having a hard time last year finding someone to be their candidate for
county mayor, Flinn volunteered. They turned him down and instead
persuaded state Rep. Larry Scroggs of Germantown to run.
Admittedly, Flinn is an outsider with little party experience and connections. He should have used the past three years to build those. But he was turned down precisely because he's an outsider. The Republicans wanted someone safe, someone they could trust, someone they could depend on to be the "good ol' loser." It was little reported, but a majority of Republican Mayor Jim Rout's executive administrative staff had already aligned themselves with Democrat AC Wharton. They expected, and wanted, a smooth transition. Flinn ran the risk of screwing that up and so won the enmity of the party core.

Flinn turned to Phillip Langsdon of Germantown, a doctor, like Flinn, and
a staunch conservative. Langsdon spent four divisive years as the local
GOP chairman, which left him at odds with the party's moderate wing
and out of touch with the mainstream of GOP thinking.
Translatation: Langsdon opposed the "go along to get ahead" core of the Republicans who work with the City's Democratic majority for their own enrichment. People who put money ahead of principle.

With Langsdon's help, Flinn became the candidate of the far right. But
Flinn doesn't fit the mold of a conservative, at least not based on his
voting record. According to the Shelby County Election Commission,
Flinn has voted four times since 1990 as a Democrat, most recently two
years ago in the Aug. 3 federal and state primaries. Being the candidate
of the right was not a role Flinn seemed comfortable with.
This is an SAT fiction. Flinn never was, nor claimed to be, far right. This is SAT's attempt to slander Flinn with what her mind considers to be a terrible, terrible label.

And Flinn had something Scroggs didn't: personal wealth he was willing
to spend on his campaign....
Yet Flinn had no trouble winning the GOP mayoral primary. He spent
more than $400,000 of his own money...
Yeah, yeah, yeah. He bought the election. Too bad I didn't see some of that money, nor any other voter. It went to television, radio and direct mailers, just like the $900,000-plus that AC Wharton spent.

She does make a good point about Flinn's fateful choice of campaign advisers and strategy. He tried to cast himself into a role that he couldn't play, and cast Wharton into a light that no one believed. It was a doomed move. But he wouldn't have had to do that if the Republican party leadership had gotten behind their candidate and provided their own expertise and advice, something they refused to do in a fit of pique over Flinn's upset win over primary challenger Larry Scroggs, who was the original intended loser of choice. Republicans frequently, publicly, eat their own and did so here to their own detriment.

His consultants came to town with a pre-packaged mold and tried to fit
Flinn into it. They kept him from public debates and seldom let him take
questions from the press. They tried to persuade voters Flinn opposed
the downtown arena when, in fact, through a broadcast contract, he will
profit from it.
Ahhh, straining at gnats again. She loves to harp on the "outsider" status of his advisers. Apparently being "out of town" is a bad thing, except when you're trying to sell papers in the surrounding communities and counties, as the CA does. And since when does opposing public financing of the arena, which is what Flinn opposed, not SAT's deliberate misrepresentation above, disallow someone from profitting from it later? He wasn't against the Grizzlies or the arena, only the choice to use public money that was made in rushed, questionable, closed meetings by a cozily tight group of developers and City leaders.

Rout and Herenton had been content to sit out the campaign. But once
he was attacked, Herenton became enthused with the idea of beating
Flinn. Rout made it clear he would support any local Republican seeking
office but Flinn.
There's a wealth of information that you're not being given in that paragraph! Rout behaved badly, plain and simple. It was petty of him. And his son behaved even worse--publically proclaiming Wharton the next Mayor and dissing Flinn before the election. This from the head of the Young Republicans!

There's also the question of why Herenton kept such a very low profile during the campaign. Especially if you believe SAT above. Some talk is that he wanted to keep clear reminders of his deep connections to Wharton out of the spotlight. Wharton was, after all, the campaign chairman for Herenton's last two runs.

Flinn's campaign should be one for the textbooks. It's a classic case of a
candidate's good intentions gone awry, and of the utter failure of outside
consultants to understand the culture and the politics of the community
they came to scorch.
I will grant some truth to this. But more importantly for readers of the CA, it was as pure and clear an example of abuse of position by a columnist who oft proclaims, or allows others to proclaim, her lofty, disinterested sage status as you will likely ever see. SAT was so clearly, so biliously opposed to Flinn that I find it hard to believe that her editor would let these columns pass. But then her editor is Dave "K-Mushy" Kushma, so it's not that hard to see.

And it all started, her political persuasion aside, from a snub in a supermarket.

Until next time, that is all.
Your Working Boy

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