Sunday, September 01, 2002


Our namesake and nemesis is back from vacation! Unfortunately, to judge from this column Jackson Baker appears to still be out and he seems to have phone this one in.

Talking about last week's final County Commission meeting, which I commented on here, Baker writes a slack, name-checking account of it which utterly leaves out Commissioner Cleo Kirk's attempt to slip a crony raise through! Instead, Baker uses the piece to slide some of the usual hoo-ha past us.
There was first-termer Bridget Chisholm, a late 2000
appointee who was much-heralded as a woman of
achievement in the financial sector but who seemed unhappy
with the demands -- always political and often highly partisan
-- of the disputatious public sector and decided to bow out

Another voluntary exile was Tommy Hart, the Collierville
businessman who was a solid anchor for conservative and
Republican causes but who found himself an active agent of
compromise more than once. He said Monday that he prided
himself on never having succumbed to a sense of power
during his two terms (including an eventful year as chairman)
and opined, "The important thing is not to change from who
you are."

Developer Clair VanderSchaaf, badly defeated in the May
Republican primary by newcomer Joyce Avery for his
unrepentant support of public funding for the new downtown
arena and, he acknowledged, "a few other reasons"
(presumably including notoriety from a much-publicized DUI
arrest) was low-profile on Monday, his still-youthful
appearance belying his 60-odd years and a generation of
service on the commission.
"Disputatous?" Is that even a word? Notice how he elides VanderSchaaf's problems, too.

Democrat Julian Bolton went against expectations Monday
by predicting that the new commission, despite the more
conservative cast of the new members, would be "more
progressive" than the current body. "That's because the
Republican majority has been joined at the hip with the
administration of Mayor [Jim] Rout," he explained,
suggesting that "things will be different" when newly elected
Democrat A C Wharton takes office as county mayor next
It might also be the deal worked out by incoming chairman, Democrat Walter Bailey, to get Republican Loeffel's vote to secure his chairmanship. In exchange, he'll support her next term when she seeks the chairmanship. It'll be interesting to see how that deal work out, if it even holds.

But I think Bolton is just issuing a warning to the Republican majority, one that Baker is happy to pass along under a different guise.

Baker's next item is a conflation of various political events that he uses to sweep a few things under your rug.
George Flinn, the
businessman/physician who carried the standard of a divided
Republican Party against Wharton, got a standing ovation
from attendees at the August meeting of the local GOP
steering committee. Flinn promised to be heard from again.
At the same meeting, Young Republican chairman Rick Rout
read a letter of apology for an e-mail to YR board members
during the campaign that had seemed to be critical of Flinn.
Both Lamar Alexander and Bob Clement -- the Republican
and Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate, respectively
-- have made frequent appearances in Shelby County of late,
the middle-of-the-road nature of which can best be gauged by
the fact that Clement has appeared before such groups as
the archconservative Dutch Treat Luncheon and Alexander
has allowed himself to sound measurably more moderate
than in his hotly disputed primary with outgoing 7th District
congressman Ed Bryant. Though Alexander is favored over
Nashville congressman Clement, the two will participate in a
series of debates, and Clement may find himself the
beneficiary of the same expectations game that boosted
GOP gubernatorial candidate Van Hilleary's stock in a
recent debate in which he was judged to have held his own
with favored Democrat Phil Bredesen, the former Nashville
So much to pick apart there! First, notice how Baker doesn't miss an opportunity to remind readers that Republicans are "divided." Then he glosses over the punishment of Rout in his letter-reading, and doesn't mention the results (which I still don't have, sorry to say); is the younger Rout still on a leadership track or was he sent to the woodshed for a while? Baker tries to make you think Clement is "middle of the road," even though he's aping Republican language and themes in his campaign. Even for a Tennessee Democrat, Clement is still running far over to the right for them. And finally, notice how he plumps Clement to look good in the upcoming debates if he just holds his own, while simultaneously discounting Hilleary. Whew! So much work in one little paragraph.

His last paragraph is a doozy!
A slenderized, silver-maned Bill Clinton possessed
movie-star cachet in the relatively nondescript company of
Arkansas political candidates and Memphis-area Democrats
during visits Monday to West Memphis and Memphis, for a
Democratic rally and a party fund-raiser, respectively. Said
the former president in West Memphis, "They [Republicans in
Congress] spent $70 million trying to prove I was a winner.
And you could have told them that in the first place!"
Yes...Clinton worship is still alive and well. You can read my takes on these events here and here. Baker is so far off the mark that this can only be called propaganda.

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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