Friday, March 07, 2003


Some of you may no doubt have wondered why I haven't been commenting on Jackson Baker's "On Politics" column in the Memphis Flyer, which was the impetus and namesake for this blog. Frankly, Jackson's been phoning it in for months now. I suspect he's been demoralised by the turn of events for his beloved Democrats ever since 2002. If Baker can't be bothered to try harder, why should I waste time on him?

Well, he seems to be springing back at last. This week's column takes a look at unattributed mutterings that David Kustoff, loser to Marsha Blackburn in the last election, might try to face her again next year.

The story seems more an excuse for Baker to trot out the usual swipes and tired lashings against Republicans, especially of the not-Memphis and the conservative kind.
Marsha Blackburn, the Nashville-area resident who defeated a largish field of opponents in last year's 7th District congressional race and then dusted off Democrat Tim Barron of Collierville, should have every reason to feel secure in her job
Barron was a non-entity, a straw man propped up by newspaper writers like Baker and Susan Adler Thorp who despised Blackburn. Note that Baker here describes her as merely a "Nashville-area resident," making nothing of her considerable support and good-will among Tennesseans, and her accomplishments during the Income Tax Wars.
Upon her election, Blackburn promptly found herself named an assistant whip for the GOP in the House of Representatives and got the appointment she coveted to a government operations subcommittee that would give her good opportunity to capitalize on the conservative-populist image that she, as a prominent income-tax opponent, had established so successfully in the state Senate.
Again, note how she "found herself named," a passive image implying she's not working, or relying on others. Her outspoken action to stop the income tax is merely an "image that she...established." He's again implying that she's underserving and false.
Why then are there persistent rumors that Kustoff is aiming to oppose her re-election in 2004? And why does Kustoff -- who acknowledges having been encouraged to oppose Blackburn by "a number of people," especially in Shelby County -- choose not to rule out making the race?
What a lot of fluff and nothing to plump into a supposed raison d'etre for this column. In his usual fashion, he spends a lot of ink rehashing things we already know, tossing off a few shabby remarks in the process. I could write this stuff, and I don't have a fraction of the contacts and access he does!

The point Baker would seem to want to make is that the Seventh District "belongs" to Memphis and West Tennessee, not to those jumped-up Middle Tennesseans who stole it. Get real. Blackburn couldn't have won if she hadn't earned it. The District is too tilted to West Tennessee for that not to be the case.

The money paragraph for me, though, was this:
Even if Blackburn draws no strong opponent in 2004, she will likely have a race on her hands in 2006 -- at which time she is almost certain to run for either governor or for the U.S. Senate, if Majority Leader Bill Frist, honors his two-term pledge and begins a campaign for the presidential nomination in 2008.
Governor? I asked her that during one of the tax protests, when I had the chance to meet her, and she politely demurred that she was only focused on her US House race. [Digression: Blackburn is petite! She's an itty-bitty thing! But she's also very attractive and looks a good ten years younger than her age. And you get a real sense from her that although she's a well-bred Southern woman, she also has steel in her, a bit like Elizabeth Dole.]

Again, Baker can't be bothered to attribute this anywhere, making it suspect, but if true, a run against Bredesen would be something to behold. I'd pay money for that match. If anyone can provide some further support for Baker's contention, please forward it.

The remainder of Baker's column is something I haven't been seeing in the Commercial Appeal. County Sheriff Mark Luttrell is apparently going to propose some stark cuts to his budget and a reduction of employees that could be as large as 600. We'll see.

And the budget cutting fever rolls along....

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