Monday, November 29, 2004

Safe Harbor

Attendees at the Clinton Library dedication got shelter from the storm.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 29, 2004 at 4:00 AM

LITTLE ROCK -- At mid-morning last Thursday, with the dedication ceremonies of the Clinton Library just an hour or two away, a middle-aged couple sans credentials somehow managed to get through the several checkpoints designed to screen out visitors and approached the media pass-gate at the library site, which sat high up on a hill alongside the Arkansas River, a glassed-in structure which looks like an airport terminal on stilts.

"Hi," said the husband to the group of raincoated twentysomething security assistants. "We're from DeKalb, Illinois, and we just wanted to take a look." Right. The deadlines for both ticketing and credentialing were long gone, and here were two folks -- vacationers, as it were -- just happening by for a drop-in. Just like old times. It's not happening, they were told. Not only was every semi-healthy former president scheduled to be on hand for the occasion, but so was the newly reelected George W. Bush himself.

"So what!?" the wife said with unfeigned amazement. She went on to explain that she and her husband had been in Chicago some time back for a papal visit by John Paul II. "I mean, we saw the pope. This is ridiculous!"

Well, the couple from DeKalb haven't been paying close enough attention. We live in dangerous times. A couple of decades ago, the aforesaid pope himself was the target of a would-be assassin's bullets. And in the age of al-Qaeda -- especially in the wake of 9/11 -- all public celebrations are potential variations on "The Masque of the Red Death," the Edgar Allan Poe story set in the Italian Renaissance about a doomed revelry in the middle of a plague.

There was revelry in Little Rock last week too. And, to lighten up a bit, nothing untoward happened. On Wednesday night, veteran Democratic activist Evelyn Still of Memphis huddled with other visitors behind rope-lines in the lobby of Little Rock's version of The Peabody, whooping and hollering with the others whenever a certifiable celebrity entered or left the plush hostelry.

"So far, I've seen Bono and Nancy Sinatra and Tricia Nixon, and I've heard that Meg Ryan and Brad Pitt came by!" said Still, camera and autograph pad at the ready.

Just then came another high-decibel whoop, as a group including Jesse Jackson and Howard Dean entered -- the ghost of Christmas past and the ghost of last Christmas, politically speaking. That was followed by an even bigger yell as -- who was it? Oh yeah, Geraldo! Fox News broadcaster Rivera, with a lady on his arm, both of them formally attired and beaming at the attention, had just arrived -- headed, presumably, to one of the several glittering social affairs that took place in town all week, excluding the unticketed denizens of the rope-line, of course.

"Oh my God!" said a woman, as a youngish man, clad in simple sport shirt, entered. She was alone in her shock of recognition, as this turned out to be Dave Casinelli of North Little Rock, a former pitcher for the New York Yankees. Casinelli's status was decidedly second-tier in a week in which, for example, one could be having dinner at the Double Tree Hotel and listening to William Cohen, a former senator and secretary of defense under Clinton, discourse with a woman companion two tables over.

Audible snatches of the conversation might have been table scraps from The New York Post's Page Six gossip fare: From Cohen: "Hillary said that?" "Oh, Vernon [Walters, a Clinton confidante] dropped by." The woman (speaking of TV's John McLaughlin): "I call him Mack!" (To distinguish him from other Johns, seemed to be the idea.)

Not everything said by a celebrity was quite that superficial. Comedian/pundit/author/broadcaster Al Franken offered this commentary on the recent difficulties of his nemesis, Fox broadcaster Bill O'Reilly, whose network evidently paid millions in an undisclosed settlement that headed off a potential sexual-harassment suit.

"Oh, he took a fall, all right," said Franken the author of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, in which O'Reilly figures large with no small satisfaction.

What Franken was doing at just that juncture was inquiring at the affair's main media desk about missing credentials that should have been, but weren't, forwarded to himself and a colleague. That somebody as celebrated in Democratic circles as Franken had this problem was a commentary of sorts on the tightness of security.

Franken finally got his ducats, of course, as did such other stragglers as two print reporters from Memphis who, by dint of much struggle and special pleading, finally earned the right to stand, largely unshielded, in a cold rain for several hours on Thursday as various bands played and orators orated, as Bono and The Edge sang, and as other warm-up events (no pun intended, or applicable) took place.

Discomfort or no, however, it was worth being there on an occasion when George W. and all those other former chief executives Clinton, the senior Bush, Jimmy Carter found it both convenient and timely to make nice with each other and to pretend, at least for a moment, that there was both comity and continuity in the affairs of the American state.

"A bad hair day," jested Arkansas senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln early on, as, sheltered by an umbrella, she headed for rendezvous with a TV reporter. Yes, but a good day for democracy all the potential chills, literal and metaphorical, notwithstanding.

• State senator Jim Kyle of Memphis is new Democratic leader of the Tennessee Senate, having won a party caucus vote in Nashville last week. He supplants Chattanooga's Ward Crutchfield, the longtime caucus head.

The ascendancy in the party hierarchy of Kyle, a confidante of Governor Phil Bredesen, is yet another measure of the governor's influence in that body. Bredesen's popularity remains high, despite his current stand-off with Tennessee Justice Center's Gordon Bonnyman over whether and how to continue TennCare.

Bredesen continues to get mentions in the national media as a presidential prospect for 2008. "If Bredesen doesn't make Democrats swoon, something has gone terribly wrong," says the current New Republic, which rates the Tennessee governor as "the best potential presidential candidate among the Democrats' second tier of stars."

• Eighth District U.S. representative Marsha Blackburn was among the 'aye' voters on last week's unrecorded tally of the House of Representatives Republican caucus, in which the GOP lawmakers amended their own rules to prevent the holder of a party leadership post from being removed in the event of an indictment for a felony. The vote was on behalf of Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, one of the architects of GOP domination in the House and the impresario of a reapportionment move which is credited with adding five new Republican seats to the party's majority. DeLay is under legal scrutiny by a Texas grand jury, which has already indicted three of his political associates for improper use of corporate funds to pay for political activities.

Blackburn, who is making a pre-Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan, said through a spokesman in Washington that she believed expulsion from party office or committee chairmanships should not be a remedy except in case of conviction. She also has written the House Rules Committee, asking that the House Ethics Committee, which has admonished DeLay in the past, "tighten" its procedures for issuing such admonishments.

Third District U.S. representative Zach Wamp of Chattanooga was one of several GOP congressmen who broke with the party majority on the rules changes. "It sends all the wrong signals for us to change the current rules," said Wamp, who called in vain for a recorded secret ballot on the issue. •

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

POLITICS

Attendees at the Clinton Library dedication got shelter from the storm.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 23, 2004 at 4:00 AM

SAFE HARBOR LITTLE ROCK -- At mid-morning last Thursday, with the dedication ceremonies of the Clinton Library just an hour or two away, a middle-aged couple sans credentials somehow managed to get through the several checkpoints designed to screen out visitors and approached the media pass-gate at the library site, which sat high up on a hill alongside the Arkansas River, a glassed-in structure which looked like an airport terminal on stilts.

ÒHi,Ó said the husband to the group of raincoated twenty-something security assistants, ÒweÕre from DeKalb, Illinois, and we just wanted to take a look.Ó Right. The deadlines for both ticketing and credentialing were long gone, and here were two folks Ð vacationers, as it were -- just happening by for a drop-in. Just like old times. ItÕs not happening, they were told. Not only was every semi-healthy former president scheduled to be on hand for the occasion, but so was the newly reelected George W. Bush himself.

ÒSo what!?Ó the wife said with unfeigned amazement. She went on to explain that she and her husband had been in Chicago some time back for a papal visit by John Paul II. ÒI mean, we saw the Pope. This is ridiculous!Ó

WellÉthe couple from DeKalb havenÕt been paying close enough attention. We live in dangerous times. A couple of decades ago, the aforesaid John Paul himself was the target of a would-be assassinÕs bullets. And in the age of Al Qaeda Ð especially in the wake of 9/11 Ð all public celebrations are potential variations on ÒThe Masque of the Red Death,Ó the Edgar Allan Poe story, set in the Italian Renaissance, about a doomed revelry going on in the middle of a plague

There was revelry in Little Rock last week, too. And, to lighten up a bit, nothing untoward happened. On Wednesday night, veteran Democratic activist Evelyn Still of Memphis huddled with other visitors behind rope lines in the lobby of Little RockÕs version of The Peabody, whooping and hollering with the others whenever a certifiable celebrity came into view, entering or leaving the plush hostelry.

ÒSo far, IÕve seen Bono and Nancy Sinatra and Tricia Nixon, and IÕve heard that Meg Ryan and Brad Pitt came by!Ó said Still, camera and autograph pad at the ready.

Just then came another high-decibel whoop, as a group including Jesse Jackson and Howard Dean entered. The ghost of Christmas past, and the ghost of last Christmas, politically speaking. That was followed by an even bigger yell as Ð who was it? Oh yeah, Geraldo! Fox News broadcaster Rivera, with a lady on his arm, both of them formally attired and beaming at the attention, had just arrived Ð headed, presumably, to one of the several glittering social affairs that took place in town all week, excluding the unticketed denizens of the rope line, of course .

ÒOh my God!Ó said a woman as a youngish man, clad in simple sport shirt, entered. She was alone in her shock of recognition, as this turned out to be Dave Casinelli of North Little Rock, a former pitcher for the New York Yankees. CasinelliÕs status was decidedly second-tier in a week in which, for example, one could be having dinner at the Double Tree Hotel and listening to William Cohen, a former senator and Secretary of Defesne under Clinton, discouse with a woman companion two tables over

.Audible natches of the conversation might have been table scraps from The New York PostÕs Page Six gossip fare: From Cohen: ÒHilary said that?Ó ÒOh, Vernon [Walters, a Clinton confidante] dropped by.Ó The woman (speaking of TVÕs John McLaughlin): ÒI call him Mack!Ó (To distinguish him from other Johns, seemed to be the idea.)

Not everything said by a celebrity was quite that superficial. Comedian/pundit/author/broadcaster Al Franken offered this commentary on the recent difficulties of his nemesis, Fox broadcaster Bill OÕReilly, whose network evidently paid millions in an undisclosed settlement that headed off a potential sexual-harassment suit.

ÒOh, he took a fall, all right,Ó said Franken -- the author of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, in which OÕReilly figures large -- with no small satisfaction.

What Franken was doing at just that juncture was inquiring at the affairÕs main media desk about missing credentials that should have been, but werenÕt, forwarded to himself and a colleague. That somebody as celebrated in Democratic circles as himself had this problem was a commentary of sorts on the tightness of security.

Al finally got his ducats, of course, as did such other stragglers as two print reporters from Memphis who, by dint of much struggle and special pleading, finally earned the right to stand, largely unshielded, in a cold rain for several hours on Thursday as various bands played and orators orated, as Bono and The Edge sang, and as other warm-up events (no pun intended, or applicable) took place.

Discomfort or no, however, it was worth being there on an occasion when George W. and all those other former chief executives Ð Clinton, the senior Bush, Jimmy Carter -- found it both convenient and timely to make nice with each other and to pretend, at least for a moment, that there was both comity and continuity in the affairs of the American state.

ÒA bad hair day,Ó jested Arkansas Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln early on, as, sheltered by an umbrella, she headed for rendezvous with a TV reporter. Yes, but a good day for democracy Ð all the potential chills, literal and metaphorical, notwithstanding.



Ron Reagan checks in with media credentials.


Arkansas senator Blanche Lincoln hoists the umbrella.
State Senator Jim Kyle of Memphis is new Democratic leader of the state Senate, having won a party caucus vote in Nashville last week. He supplants ChattanoogaÕs Ward Crutchfield, the longtime caucus head.

The ascendancy in the party hierarchy of of Kyle, a confidante of Governor Phil Bredesen, is yet another measure of the influence in that body of Bredesen, whose popularity remains high despite the governorÕs current stand-off with Tennessee Justice Center Gordon Bonnyman over whether and how to continue TennCare

.Bredesen continues to get mentions in the national media as a presidential prospects for 2008. ÒIf Bredesen doesn't make Democrats swoon, something has gone terribly wrong,Ó says the current New Republic, which rates the Tennessee governor as Òthe best potential presidential candidate among the Democrats' second tier of stars.Ó 8th District U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn was among the ÔAyeÕ voters on last weekÕs unrecorded tally of the House of Representatives Republican caucus, in which the GOP lawmakers amended their own rules to prevent the holder of a party leadership post from being removed, as was formerly the case, in the event of an indictment for a felony

The vote was on behalf of Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, one of the architects of GOP domination in the House and he impresario of a reapportionment move last year which is credited with added five new Republican seats to the partyÕs current majority.

DeLay is under legal scrutiny by a Texas grand jury, which has already indicted three of his political associates for improper use of political campaign money.

Blackburn, who is making a pre-Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan, said through a spokesman in Washington that she believed expulsion from party office or committee chairmanships should not be a remedy except in case of conviction. She also has written the House Rules Committee, which has issued several previous admonishments to DeLay, asking that the committee reexamine its processes ÒtightenÓ its rules on admonishments.

3rd District U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga was one of several GOP congressmen who broke with the party majority on the rules changes. ÒIt sends all the wrong signals for us to change the current rules," said Wamp, who called in vain for a recorded secret ballot on the issue.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Former MLGW Official Larry Thompson Alleges Misconduct in Bond Deal

Former MLGW Official Larry Thompson Alleges Misconduct in Bond Deal

Posted By on Thu, Nov 18, 2004 at 4:00 AM

A former MLGW senior officer told the Memphis City Council Thursday in an e-mail that he believes Rodney Herenton, son of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, may have received money from the MLGW-TVA bond deal through First Tennessee Bank.

Larry Thompson, forced out in September as MLGW chief operations officer, also makes accusations against bond attorneys Charles Carpenter of Memphis and Richard Mays of Little Rock. He sent the e-mail from Florida in response to the City Council's inquiry on the bond deal. The deadline for responses is November 18th.

Thompson said he had "no direct involvement with or communication with the parties involved in the bond deal" and got his information "second-hand" from discussions with former MLGW President Herman Morris and others. As a veteran MLGW top executive, Thompson is fully aware of the seriousness of the inquiry and the controversy over the bond deal which began more than a year ago. Yet his response is curiously explosive and casual at the same time and, by his own admission, based on hearsay.

"I have been told specificly (sic) that some of the particiapnts (sic) brought no value and in some cases work had to be redone-- Charles Carpenter. In other cases (Mays), no one ever showed up to do anything, but expedted (sic) a check. In the case of First Tennessee, the calculations were adjusted after the deal was signed to assure that First Tenn got the promised amount of money when they were unable to sell any significant amount of bonds. Rodney Herenton was never visible per these discussions, but was suspected as the recipeint (sic) of the First Tennessee payments. I will be glad to help as I can when I return."

Thompson's unsupported charge contradicts the responses of Willie Herenton, Morris, and First Tennessee Financial vice president Deke Iglehart. Mayor Herenton and Iglehart said Rodney Herenton was not involved in the deal and did not benefit from it. Morris said in his written response that during a meeting with Herenton last year "I asked whether Rodney Herenton was interested (and) the mayor stated Rodney could not be a part of it."

Carpenter ran Herenton's historic 1991 campaign for mayor in which he edged incumbent Dick Hackett by 142 votes. He denied Thompson's charge in an interview Thursday and defended his firm's work for the utility company over the last 13 years.

"We've worked on nine different bond financing deals and were sole counsel on two of them," he said. "I have never heard any complaints about the quality of our services."

Carpenter said his firm has participated in more than $6 billion in tax-exempt bond financings. He said Thompson was never in any meetings with him about MLGW business.

"I don't know where he is coming from," Carpenter said.

Mays held a fundraiser last year and made a political contribution to Herenton during the months in which attorneys and bond firms were jockeying for position in the lucrative bond deal. Mays was named co-counsel.

The Flyer confirmed with City Council staff that the e-mail came from Thompson. In his e-mail, Thompson said he learned from his wife Thursday that the City Council had been seeking his response but "I did not see either letter." The first letters to Thompson and others went out on October 29th. His is the only e-mail response so far. The others are formal letters, many of them accompanied by documentation, including the one from FTN Financial, the bond subsidiary of First Tennessee Bank (now First Horizon). n

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

POLITICS

Memphis' late chief executive was, in the final analysis, an Everyman's man.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2004 at 4:00 AM

WYETH CHANDLER: MAYOR, JUDGE, MEDIATOR Wyeth Chandler, whose tenure as chief executive of Memphis spanned the old age of paternalistic control by a social elite and the new one of democratized urban sprawl, partook of both worlds himself. When Chandler, who died last week at the age of 74 after suffering a heart attack, was eulogized on Monday at Bellevue Baptist Church, he was referred to as an "aristocrat" by both Shelby County mayor A C Wharton, one of several public figures to make heartfelt formal remarks concerning the late former mayor, and the Rev. Jeffrey W. Marx, the self-described "little nobody priest" from Collierville who was the official celebrant at Chandler's rites of final passage -- Episcopalian despite the venue. Both made it clear they felt honored by their association with Chandler in life and death, and both -- to borrow an idiom from Shakespeare, the legendary bard whom Chandler would quote on any pretext whatsoever -- may have protested too much. Or more than Chandler, who was paradoxically both modest and immodest about himself, would have advised. That, as all his intimates mentioned, was one of his things --counseling others on how to approach sensitive public subjects. Chandler-- who pursued careers as Circuit Court judge and mediator in the immediate aftermath of his two-plus mayoral terms -- was not, strictly speaking, to the manor born. He was the adopted son of former Mayor Walter Chandler, whom he revered, not least because, as his son once pointed out, the senior Chandler was himself "a self-made man." A commanding, dashing figure through his various incarnations -- starting as a Tyrone Power lookalike and ending with the look of a white-maned Moses -- Chandler definitely had lordly cadences, as indicated by the famous recorded refrain, Yes suh, Mistuh Dees, something of a signature track for Rick Dees, now of Los Angeles and the nation, during the deejay's mid-'70s Memphis years. But Chandler's tastes were, by conscious choice, downright plebeian. During his years as mayor, from 1971 to 1982, he lived in Whitehaven, a well-tended place (annexed to the city on his watch) but a workingman's neck of the woods, really, never an elitist refuge. Most of his later years were spent in Bartlett, an updated version of that terrain. And his schools? Central High, Memphis State, UT Law School. His hangouts were places like Old Zinnie's, and his buddies were good ole boys or edgy beer-drinking journalists. He sang country music, he got drunk (and sometimes got into fisticuffs) in redneck bars. And don't forget he died or suffered his ultimately fatal moment of cardiac arrest mowing his own lawn, out in the suburbs. He was a former Marine who watched Monday Night Football. A man's man. Everyman's. To be sure, he had style. And large presence, even in small things. Dick Hackett, his immediate successor as mayor and the impresario of Chandler's funeral arrangements, remembered the flamboyant way Chandler combed his hair -- like a man, as Hackett both described and illustrated it, "dropping back for a pass." (An irony noted by more than one attendee at Monday's funeral: Both Hackett, now a resident of Nesbit, Mississippi, and Chandler moved out of the city after leaving office.) Because he became mayor in the wake of Henry Loeb, Memphis' last truly Old School mayor, and because there were leftover racial disturbances early in his tenure, and because, for that matter, he was not one to be backed up by anybody, Chandler is remembered by some as being as single-edged as his predecessor. But, in fact, he was even then a natural conciliator. Fred Davis, the first African-American to be elected to the City Council where he served with Chandler, said this week, "He tried to find the middle of an issue. I fought against him many a time, when he was councilman and when he was mayor, but I fought with him against others many a time too. He was a good man." Worn down somewhat by difficult police and firemen's strikes late in his second term, Chandler got himself reelected to a third term in 1979 -- "to vindicate myself," he later said --then happily resigned when former Governor (now Senator) Lamar Alexander, whom Chandler had lobbied through his friend Lewis Donelson, offered him a Circuit Court judgeship in 1982. As a judge, Chandler was respected by peers, plaintiffs, and defendants alike. Holding court with his white poodle Millie in his lap, he was equal parts scold and soother, enforcer and indulgent uncle. "He always saw both points of view," remembers lawyer David Kustoff, who dealt with Chandler when the judge took on a third public career as a pre-trial mediator later on. "Couldn't have been fairer or more helpful," says WMC FM-100 deejay Ron Olsen about a legal settlement brokered by Chandler. Steve Cohen, the Midtown state senator, underwrites those sentiments and adds an endorsement of Chandler as the wise and compassionate counselor. A fellow dog-lover, Chandler was consulted by Cohen when the senator undertook to write some ground-breaking animal-rights legislation a couple of years back. "He supplied the strategy and the gravamen of it," says Cohen. One of the speakers at Chandler's funeral was current mayor Willie Herenton, who said that he had been largely unacquainted with Chandler until the past year, when, facing difficult times with his City Council, he was prevailed on to get to know him by Donelson, Frank Norfleet, and Jim McGhee, three stalwarts of Memphis' business/professional elite. Although no one gives "orders" to Memphis' headstrong mayor, this was, under the circumstances, something very close to that -- as Herenton, so clearly under stress throughout 2004, seemed tacitly to acknowledge. "I'm grateful I finally got to know the real Wyeth Chandler," Herenton said. And what did the former mayor advise the current one? We'll likely never know. All Herenton conveyed Monday was this: "I told him,'Wyeth [or 'Wyatt,' a pronunciation indicating there was still an element of unfamiliarity there], I can't do that!' And he said, 'Why not? It worked for me!'" What Chandler advised seemed to work for a lot of people like Janice Holder, who came under Judge Chandler's fatherly wing when she was elected a Circuit Court judge in 1990 and was nurtured by his companionship and advice. A "Yankee wench," Chandler playfully called his protŽgŽe, who would become a state Supreme Court justice and was sworn in by the proud paterfamilias himself. "They loved me!" was a habitual refrain remembered Monday by both Hackett and fellow judge Charles McPherson after Chandler had addressed an audience. That and the tongue-in-cheek self-salutation after proffering some of his famous advice: "I am a genius!" "Genius": Well, if one takes that word in its root sense, to denote someone who is both unique and influential, maybe he was, maybe he was. In his close on Monday, the Rev. Marx reminded the attendees of their mortality: "One of you out there is next. And all of us are in line." Stern stuff, but somehow the notion of being lined up behind Wyeth Chandler didn't seem all so bad, after all. OTHER NEWS Another Mighty Heart Members and guests of the local chapter of the Newspaper Guild had the honor Saturday night to listen to and meet Mariane Pearl, widow of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was abducted in Pakistan two years ago by al-Qaeda terrorists and beheaded. Speaking at the Al Chymia Shrine Temple on Shelby Oaks Boulevard to a crowd estimated at several times the size of previous fund-raising dinners, Pearl managed the same objective and understated treatment in her remarks as in her reminiscence/memoir A Mighty Heart (Scribner), paperback copies of which were sold, at $13 apiece -- a literary bargain. Decisions, Decisions Members of the Shelby County Commission, having just voted on a new member to fill a vacancy (George Flinn, who succeeds Linda Rendtorff, now director of county services), has another vacancy to fill -- that of chief commission assistant Grace Hutchinson, who will be leaving to take up budgeting duties with the county school system. Hats in the ring so far include those of Steve Summerall, currently a commission assistant working under Hutchinson; Lisa Geeter, an administrative assistant with the Memphis City Council; and Winslow (Buddy) Chapman, a former police director under the late Mayor Wyeth Chandler. Two other names that have been floated are those of Susan Adler Thorp, the recently resigned press secretary of county mayor A C Wharton, and political and governmental veteran Joe Cooper. Ticket, Please According to Clint Brewer of the Lebanon Democrat, Governor Phil Bredesen and 9th District congressman Harold Ford Jr. are already hatching plans to run as a team in 2006 -- Bredesen for reelection and Ford as the Democrats' Senate nominee. No word on the possibility from Nashville mayor Bill Purcell, who is also rumored to harbor Senate ambitions.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Hustle & Flow

Election winds change political horizons nationally and locally.<

Posted on Fri, Nov 12, 2004 at 4:00 AM

Now that Tennessee is increasingly tinted red on the political color map, what do Democrats in these parts do? Well, like they say, it's an ill wind that blows nobody some good. But it's still an ill wind. Which is to say, it creates opportunities for some, dilemmas for others.

Out of nowhere, Governor Phil Bredesen is on the short list of White House Democratic possibles for 2008. In the morrow of President Bush's reelection victory -- predicated on his control of electoral votes in the American heartland -- Bredesen's name has turned up in surveys of potential Democratic candidates prepared by the mainline national media.

Putting together a potential 2008 presidential-candidate list in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Peter Wallsten and Nick Anderson included Bredesen among a small group of governors "seen widely as effective communicators of a populist Democratic message in GOP-leaning states." Adam Nagourney put Bredesen on his short list of Democratic prospects in the Sunday New York Times, and USA Today had the Tennessee governor on its list in a Friday story.

Which leads to a hypothetically possible (but unlikely) Bredesen versus Bill Frist scenario. It's surely no secret that Frist, the state's senior senator, intends to vacate his seat in 2006 to organize a 2008 presidential run unemcumbered by a legislative saddle.

n By the way, the name of Harold Ford Jr., the 9th District congressman who intends a run two years from now for Frist's seat, has itself turned up in a 2008 presidential preference survey of potential candidates by the national polling firm McLaughlin & Associates. Ford (who will be 38 in 2008) weighed in at 1 percent among respondents.

Republican candidates for the Senate seat are getting serious. Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker has started organizing a campaign, and former 7th District congressman and unsuccessful 2002 Senate candidate Ed Bryant sent out a letter last week notifying potential supporters that he would be running.

At a pre-election rally in Memphis, Bryant had said this about Corker's efforts: "He shouldn't be starting his fund-raising now, when we have the Bush effort going and various other races important to the party. I've heard a lot of complaints about that."

For state representative Beth Harwell, who has been doubling as state Republican chairman and who also is mulling over a Senate race, Bryant had this left-handed praise: "I think it's great if Beth runs." He said the possibility reminded him of the 1994 Republican primary for the 7th District congressional seat, which he eventually won. "You remember? It started out with me and [then-Germantown mayor] Charles Salvaggio and [former local GOP chairman] Maida Pearson. If Maida hadn't been in, there probably would have been a Congressman Salvaggio, and I'd probably have been shoveling trash in Jackson for the next several years."

Yet another attendee and possible Senate candidate at that Memphis rally was former 4th District congressman and ex-gubernatorial candidate Van Hilleary. "I'm ahead right now," said Hilleary, referencing a statewide poll showing him in the lead over other potential GOP contenders, "but I've got to worry about Corker." Going on with tongue presumably in cheek concerning the wealthy Chattanoogan, he asked rhetorically, "How much money do you think he'll raise before the end of the year -- $18 million?"

Urged by a GOP well-wisher to consider running in 2006 against Bredesen, the Democrat who defeated him two years ago, Hilleary replied, "I don't think he'll be easy to beat."

The new one-vote Republican majority in the state Senate has created a lot of pre-session hustle and flow among members of that body.

First, Lt. Governor John Wilder of Somerville, a nominal Democrat who survived a Republican challenge from Ron Stallings of Bolivar, has acted swiftly to nail down the vote of GOP Senate colleague Curtis Person of Memphis, a Wilder loyalist, along with enough other GOP members to apparently ensure his reelection as Senate speaker.

But the new lineup of committee chairs will surely number one less Democrat, leaving two Memphians, John Ford (chairman: General Welfare, Health & Human Resources) and Steve Cohen (chairman: State & Local Government) among the vulnerable.

Next, Democratic caucus chairman Joe Haynes of Nashville faces a challenge for his post from Dresden's Roy Herron and Clarksville's Rosalind Kurita. And Memphis senator Jim Kyle, a Bredesen confidante, is reportedly interested in the job of Senate Democratic leader, a position now held by Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga.

Former city attorney Robert Spence's school-board race for Position 1, At-Large, was widely regarded as a trial run for a 2007 mayoral bid. If so, his lackluster third-place finish behind incumbent Wanda Halbert and second-place finisher Kenneth Whalum Jr. may have set him backward on the track.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

POLITICS

Election winds change the political horizons.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 11, 2004 at 4:00 AM

HUSTLE & FLOW Now that Tennessee is increasingly tinted red on the political color map, what do Democrats in these parts do? Well, like they say, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody some good. But it’s still an ill wind. Which is to say, it creates opportunities for some, dilemmas for others.

Out of nowhere, Governor Phil Bredesen is on the short list of White House Democratic possibles for 2008. In the morrow of President Bush’s reelection victory -- predicated on his control of electoral votes in the American heartland -- Bredesen’s name has turned up in surveys of potential Democratic candidates prepared by the mainline national media.

Putting together a potential 2008 presidential-candidate list in Sunday’s LA Times, Peter Wallsten and Nick Anderson included Bredesen among a small group of governors “seen widely as effective communicators of a populist Democratic message in GOP-leaning states.” Adam Nagourney put Bredesen on his short list of Democratic prospects in the Sunday New York Times, and USA Today had the Tennessee governor on its list in a Friday story.

Which leads to a hypothetically possible (but unlikely) Bredesen-v.-Frist scenario. It’s surely no secret that Bill Frist, the state’s senior senator intends to vacate his seat in 2006 so as to organize a 2008 presidential run unemcumbered by a legislative saddle.

By the way, the name of Harold Ford Jr., the 9th District congressman who intends a run two years from now for Frist’s seat has itself turned up in a 2008 presidential preference survey of potential candidates by the national polling firm McLaughlin & Associates. Ford (who will be 38 in 2008) weighed in at 1 percent among respondents.

Republican candidates for the Senate seat are getting serious. Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker has started organizing a campaign, and former 7th District congressman and unsuccessful 2002 Senate candidate Ed Bryant sent out a letter last week notifying potential supporters that he would be running .

At a pre-election rally ion Memphis, Bryant had said this about Corker’s efforts: “He shouldn’t be starting his fund-raising now, when we have the Bush effort going and various other races important to the party. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about that.”

For State Rep. Beth Harwell, who has been doubling as state Republican chairman and who also is mulling over a Senate race, Bryant had this left-handed praise: “I think it’s great if Beth runs.” He said the possibility reminded him of the 1994 Republican primary for the 7th district congressional seat, which he eventually won. “You remember? It started out with me and [then Germantown mayor] Charles Salvaggio and [former local GOP chairman] Maida Pearson. If Maida hadn’t been in, there probably would have been a congressman Salvaggio, and I’d probably have been shoveling trash in Jackson for the next several years.”

Other than this intimation that a split in the 2006 congressional race would benefit him in the same way that the one in 1994 presumably had, Bryant did not elaborate.

Yet another attendee and possible Senate candidate at that Memphis rally was former 4th District congressman and ex-gubernatorial candidate Van Hilleary. “I’m ahead right now,” said Hilleary, referencing a statewide poll showing him in the lead over other potential GOP contenders, “but I’ve got to worry about Corker.” Going on with tongue presumably in cheek concerning the wealthy Chattanoogan, he asked rhetorically, “How much money do you think he’ll raise before the end of the year? $18 million? Anyhow, I’ve got to worry about the money he’ll have.”

Urged by a GOP well-wisher to consider running in 2006 against Governor Bredesen, the Democrat who defeated him two years ago, Hilleary replied, “I don’t think he’ll be easy to beat.”

Also on hand at that pre-election rally was another potential Senate candidate, current 7th District Rep. Marsha Blackburn. “Wait and see” was her take on the Senate race.

The new one-vote Republican majority in the state Senate has created a lot of pre-session hustle and flow among members of that body.

First, Lt. Governor John Wilder of Somerville, a nominal Democrat who survived a Republican challenge from Ron Stallings of Bolivar, has acted swiftly to nail down the vote of GOP Senate colleague Curtis Person of Memphis, a Wilder loyalist, along with enough other GOP members to apparently insure his re-election as Senate speaker.

But the new lineup of committee chairs will surely number one less Democrat, leaving two Memphians, John Ford (chairman: General Welfare, Health & Human Resources) and Steve Cohen (chairman: State & Local Government) among the vulnerable.

Next, Democratic caucus chairman Joe Haynes of Nashville faces a challenge for his post from Dresden’s Roy Herron and Clarksville’s Rosalind Kurita. And Memphis Senator Jim Kyle, a Bredesen confidante, is reportedly interested in the job of Senate Democratic leader, a position now held by Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga.

Former city attorney Robert Spence’s school board race for Position 1, At Large, was widely regarded as a trial run for a 2007 mayoral bid. If so, his lackluster third-place finish behind incumbent Wanda Halbert and second-place finisher Kenneth Whalum Jr. may have set him backwards on the track.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

WINNERS AND LOSERS IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

WINNERS AND LOSERS IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2004 at 4:00 AM

As Tuesday turned into Wednesday, the presidential race between President Bush and John Kerry was still hovering on the cusp of decision, but there were some definite election results at the local and statewide levels.

Legislative Races: Potentially dramatic change was in the offing for the next session of Tennessee’s General Assembly, as two Middle Tennessee Democratic state senators -- Jo Ann Graves (Clarksville) of District 18 and Larry Trail (Murfreesboro) of District 16 fell to Republican challengers Diane Black and Jim Tracy, respectively. As Memphis lawyer John Ryder, the GOP’s immediate past national committeeman from Tennessee pointed out, “That gives Tennessee its first elected state Senate majority in history.”

A survivor, though, was the Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Governor John Wilder of Somerville, who turned aside a challenge from Republican Ron Stallings. And the speaker of the state House of Representatives, Jimmy Naifeh of Covington, won an easier-than-expected victory over Dr. Jesse Canno, his GOP opponent.

Although Republicans had a net gain of one seat in the House, the Democrats -- and presumably Naifeh -- will maintain their power, with a seven-vote majority. What happens in the Senate, where nominal Democrat Wilder has in recent years functioned as a de facto nonpartisan leader, is still uncertain. The Senate speaker has had the declared support of three GOP senators, including Shelby County’s Curtis Person, but Ryder predicts that there will be a “grass roots” demand from Republicans that the GOP get to name one of its own as speaker.

All the incumbents in Shelby County and its environs held on to their seats. That included Democrat Mike Kernell in state House District 93, who won over Republican John Pellicciotti with somewhat greater ease than he had in 2002, when the two first tangled.

At a Republican rally in Shelby County on Monday night, Pelliocciotti had been fatalistic. “I’d like to flatter myself that what I do or what Mike does in our campaigns will make the marginal difference that elects one of us or the other,” said the young businessman. “But the fact is, I think these local races, where they’re close, will be driven by the Bush-Kerry race. Whoever does the best job of getting their voters out for president will determine the outcome in District 93, too, I think.”

And, though President Bush won Tennessee handily, Kerry would carry Shelby County by 52,000 votes, which was marginally better than his Democratic predecessor Al Gore had done against Bush, then the Republican governor of Texas, in 2000, and that fact may have confirmed Pelliocciotti’s stoic forecast. (Local Republican chairman Kemp Conrad would suggest, however, that Republicans gained proportionately more than Democrats in Shelby County voting from 2000 to 2004.)

Another Democratic House member, Beverly Marrero, turned back Republican Jim Jamieson’s third try for the District 89 seat, and Democrat Henri Brooks easily beat Republican D. Jack Smith, a former Democratic legislator, in District 92. Ditto with Barbara Cooper over George Edwards in District 86.

Two local Republicans, House GOP leader Tre Hargett and newcomer Brian Kelsey, won easy victories over Democrats Susan Slyfield and Julian Prewitt in Districts 97 and 83, respectively.

School Board Races: Two upsets and one narrow escape dominated results in the five contested elections for the Memphis board.

In the closest race, incumbent Wanda Halbert of Position One, At Large, profited from the halving of the “anti-” vote between her two major opponents, second-place finished Kenneth Whalum Jr. and Robert Spence. But her Board colleagues Willie Brooks in District 1 and Hubon “Dutch” Sandridge in District 7 were not so lucky, falling behind newcomers Stephanie Gatewood and Tomeka Hart, respectively.

Gatewood won outright. Sandridge will get to fight another day, however, since Hart failed to get an absolute majority; the balance of the vote went to third-place finisher Terry Becton.)

Patrice Robinson defeated Juanita Clark Stevenson and Anabel Hernandez-Rodriguez Turner in District 3. And Dr. Jeff Warren defeated Rev. Herman Powell in a battle of newcomers for the right to succeed the retiring Lora Jobe in District 5.

BUSH BACK(S) IN

GOP gains at the legislative level and School Board surprises highlight other results.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2004 at 4:00 AM

Election Day 2004 was a day of mixed messages and, intermittent rains notwithstanding, brisk turnouts at the polls. Almost 375,000 votes were cast in Shelby County, along with 2 million statewide. Both were records, added on to what had already been precedent-shattering totals for early voting.

Though the Big Issue on everybody’s mind -- that of the presidency -- remained unsettled until mid-morning Wednesday, when Democrat John Kerry made a surprise concession to President Bush -- perhaps to avoid a period of national confusion like that accompanying the Florida recount in 2000, shake-ups in other races were signaled early on. These were both locally, where two School Board incumbents suffered reverses, and statewide, where the Republicans added significant legislative gains to Bush’s electoral-vote victory in Tennessee.

Local Democratic activist Cheri DelBrocco reported a wait of an hour and a half on Tuesday morning at Temple Israel on East Massey. And her own expectations were stood on their head. Seniors in line, supposedly responsive to traditional Democratic positions, were indicating their intention to vote for Bush, the Republican, while youngish mothers with children -- the conservative-minded “soccer moms” of yore -- were talking up Massachusetts senator Kerry.

As local Kerry campaign director David Cocke boasted to the faithful from a stage at Beale Street’s Plush Club Tuesday night, Shelby County would go for Kerry by some 52,000 votes -- two thousand more than separated Al Gore from Bush in 2000. But that was countered by local Republican chairman Kemp Conrad, who presided over a crowded election-watch party at GOP headquarters on Ridgeway.

Conrad, who had set as a goal the cutting in half of Gore’s countywide majority, nevertheless professed himself “thrilled” by the election results. “We had an increase of 10 percent in the Shelby County overall, and of that new 10 percent, Republicans got 75 percent,” maintained the numbers-juggling GOP chairman, who noted further that his party had captured a majority in the state senate and that Shelby County had provided more votes than any other Tennessee locality for Bush, who won the state, Conrad calculated, with “a 13 percent majority.”

Though they were moot as far as influencing any local outcomes, both Conrad and Cocke, as well as state Representative Kathryn Bowers, the Shelby County Democratic chairperson, were nigh on to apoplectic about what each of them saw as the other party’s machinations and about apparent screw-ups in communications between the Election Commission downtown and various local precincts.

FOR COCKE, THE ISSUE WAS the issuance of provisional ballots to voters whose credentials could not be verified at local polling places. By his estimation, these were mainly Democratic and numbered “in the thousands.” Worse, though, was what we called the “confusion” resulting from the communications breakdown. “You have to blame the commission,” he said. “There was gross incompetence. It doesn’t matter what party was responsible.” (Democrats have a 3-2 majority on the panel.)

A corollary to Cocke’s concern was one advanced by Probate Court clerk Chris Thomas, a Republican, who claimed that at one precinct at least 75 voters who should have been classified as provisional were allowed to vote by machine. He, too, blamed a communications breakdown between the Commission and outlying precincts.

Even as the polls were opening Tuesday morning, Bowers and Conrad were in a verbal tangle over what the Democratic chairman charged were efforts by Republican poll-watchers to intimidate and disqualify obvious Democratic voters -- African-Americans in the main. Conrad said the charge was “an attempt to play the race card...right out of the Kerry-Edwards playbook” and unjustified by any Republican conduct, “past or present.”

The local controversies reflected some accruing to the Big Issue nationally -- that of who gets to be president for the next four years. All hinged on Ohio, whose vote count had been delayed, contingent on what at first was predicted to be a weeklong counting of provisional ballots in that state. Right up to the point of Kerry’s Wednesday-morning concession, Bush maintained a numerically slight lead in that all-important Midwestern state, which even before Tuesday’s voting had been generally classified as one of three decisive “battleground states -- the others being Florida, which went for Bush, and Pennsylvania, which went for Kerry.

In the final mathematics, the winner of Ohio’s 20 electoral votes was destined to be elected president. That was the bottom line, and that was the line reluctantly crossed by Kerry -- reportedly at the behest of his wife Teresa.

THOUGHT THERE WERE SEVERAL WELL-WATCHED RACES on the local ballot (see below), most eyes at the two party election-watch parties -- the GOP’s at their Ridgeway headquarters, the Democrats at the Plush Club -- were fixed on the several big TV screens that sporadically presented the presidential results in key states.

Burned in 2000 by what turned out to be premature calls of Florida for both Gore and Bush, the networks were reticent about stating their conclusions. Notable in this regard were CBS News and the Fox News Channel, criticized by Democratic and Republican partisans, respectively, for their alleged biases.

Though he had been billed as one of the star attractions at the Plush Club festivities Tuesday night, 9th District U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr. had decamped earlier in the day for Boston, where, as a national co-chair of Senator Kerry’s effort, he intended to share a stage with the Democratic nominee in Copley Square.

Given the incompleteness of the outcome, the Democrats’ celebration never occurred, however, nor did the Republicans indulge in one at their national headquarters in suburban Virginia. Local Republicans did whoop it up on Ridgeway, however, claiming victory as soon as the Fox network got over its unaccustomed bashfulness and put Ohio in the Bush column just before midnight, Memphis time.

Though local office-holders were numerous on Ridgeway, Memphis lawyer David Kustoff, Bush’s state campaign chairman, joined other GOP bigwigs in Nashville to monitor statewide and national results.

Though Rep. Ford was not to be seen at the Plush Club other members of the Ford clan were. There was, for example, Uncle John Ford, the controversial District 29 state senator, who took the occasion to proclaim to another attendee, “You’re looking at the next mayor” -- a boast which underlined the curious absence from political events, this week or at anytime in this campaign year, of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

And Isaac Ford, a sometime candidate for various offices and the congressman’s brother, was going about at the Plush, impeccably suited and chanting, somewhat inscrutably, “Hip-hop politics! This is hip-hop politics!”

Whatever it meant, that was a counterpart of sorts to “flip-flop” -- the pejorative adjective which, used by Bush and other Republicans against Kerry, figured large in this year’s presidential campaign. For a while, it seemed that term “flip-flop” might come to describe the outcome of the presidential race. But that was before Kerry resolved on his concession statement Wednesday -- an act that no one could call ambivalent.

MEANWHILE, THESE WERE THE WINNERS AND LOSER in local and statewide voting:

Legislative Races: Potentially dramatic change was in the offing for the next session of Tennessee’s General Assembly, as two Middle Tennessee Democratic state senators -- Jo Ann Graves (Clarksville) of District 18 and Larry Trail (Murfreesboro) of District 16 fell to Republican challengers Diane Black and Jim Tracy, respectively. As Memphis lawyer John Ryder, the GOP’s immediate past national committeeman from Tennessee pointed out, “That gives Tennessee its first elected state Senate majority in history.”

A survivor, though, was the Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Governor John Wilder of Somerville, who turned aside a challenge from Republican Ron Stallings. And the speaker of the state House of Representatives, Jimmy Naifeh of Covington, won an easier-than-expected victory over Dr. Jesse Cannon, his GOP opponent.

Although Republicans had a net gain of one seat in the House, the Democrats -- and presumably Naifeh -- will maintain their power, with a seven-vote majority. What happens in the Senate, where nominal Democrat Wilder has in recent years functioned as a de facto nonpartisan leader, is still uncertain. The Senate speaker has had the declared support of three GOP senators, including Shelby County’s Curtis Person, but Ryder predicts that there will be a “grass roots” demand from Republicans that the GOP get to name one of its own as speaker.

All the incumbents in Shelby County and its environs held on to their seats. That included Democrat Mike Kernell in state House District 93, who won over Republican John Pellicciotti with somewhat greater ease than he had in 2002, when the two first tangled.

At a Republican rally in Shelby County on Monday night, Pellicciotti had been fatalistic. “I’d like to flatter myself that what I do or what Mike does in our campaigns will make the marginal difference that elects one of us or the other,” said the young businessman. “But the fact is, I think these local races, where they’re close, will be driven by the Bush-Kerry race. Whoever does the best job of getting their voters out for president will determine the outcome in District 93, too, I think.”

Though, as previously indicated, spokesperson for the two parties differed as to which party actually improved its lot in Shelby County, Pellicciotti’s stoic forecast might have been on target.

Another Democratic House member, Beverly Marrero, turned back Republican Jim Jamieson’s third try for the District 89 seat, and Democrat Henri Brooks easily beat Republican D. Jack Smith, a former Democratic legislator, in District 92. Ditto with Barbara Cooper over George Edwards in District 86. Two local Republicans, House GOP leader Tre Hargett and newcomer Brian Kelsey won easy victories over Democrats Susan Slyfield and Julian Prewitt in Districts 97 and 83, respectively. Republican state Senator Mark Norris and Democratic Senator Steve Cohen easily disposed of their opponents. Cohen eclipsed both Republican Johnny Hatcher and Mary Taylor Shelby, a perennial running as an independent. Norris won two-to-one over Democrat Pete Parker.

School Board Races: Two upsets and one narrow escape dominated results in the five contested elections for the Memphis board.

In the closest race, incumbent Wanda Halbert of Position One, At Large, profited from the halving of the “anti-” vote between her two major opponents, second-place finished Kenneth Whalum Jr. and Robert Spence. But her Board colleagues Willie Brooks in District 1 and Hubon “Dutch” Sandridge in District 7 were not so lucky, polling well behind newcomers Stephanie Gatewood and Tomeka Hart, respectively.

Gatewood won outright. Sandridge will get to fight another day, however, since Hart failed to get an absolute majority; the balance of the vote went to third-place finisher Terry Becton.)

Patrice Robinson defeated Juanita Clark Stevenson and Annabel Hernandez-Rodriguez Turner in District 3. And Dr. Jeff Warren defeated Rev. Herman Powell in a battle of newcomers for the right to succeed the retiring Lora Jobe in District 5.

Congressional and Legislative Races: All members of the Tennessee congressional delegation won handily or without opposition -- including those closest to home: 7th district Republican congressman Marsha Blackburn, who was unopposed; 8th district Democratic congressman John Tanner, who buried unregenerate racist James L. Hart, running with the GOP label but repudiated by every Republican in sight; and 9th District congressman Ford, who racked up a better-than-4-to-1 majority against Republican Ruben M. Fort.

OH, AND THERE WAS AN UNKNOWN -- because so far uncounted -- number of votes for gay activist Jim Maynard, the write-in candidate who was spurred to oppose Ford because of the congressman’s support of a Federal Marriage Amendment that would exclude gay matrimony.

In a post-election press release, Maynard said he was considering a formal run against Ford “in the next primary” -- which, given that the congressman will almost certainly next be seeking the U.S. Senate seat which current incumbent Bill Frist has said he will vacate in 2006], would escalate Maynard’s goal as well.

Though Maynard’s effort this year -- not even noted by most media outlets -- never amounted to more than a blip on anybody’s radar screen, he made some effort in his press release to put his own circumstances in a larger context. Referring to Tuesday’s overall national outcome as a “sad election,” Maynard went on to sum up thusly:

“George Bush lost every debate to John Kerry. The exit polls that the majority of voters opposed Bush's handling of the economy and the War in Iraq. So why did he win such a large popular vote (51 %)? The polls show that the most important issue to voters were "moral" issues (i.e. abortion and gay marriage.)

“The Republican Party, under the direction of Karl Rove, strategically planned to use the issue of gay marriage to motivate the Christian Right and to divide the base of the Democratic Party. They succeeded. As I predicted, the issue of gay marriage and gay rights may have played a larger role in this election than the economy or the Iraq War. The political Right uses cultural issues like abortion and gay rights to win the support of people who do not benefit much if at all from Republican economic policies.

“...Like the rest of the world, I am baffled by the choice the American people have made today....”

One wonders how “baffled” Maynard could actually be, having just pinpointed one of the clear reasons for the seismic, and potentially permanent, shift to Republican control in national and statewide -- and, perhaps even in the long run, local -- politics.

Not long before his death last month, Religious Right activist Ed McAteer, who had no trouble acknowledging he wouldn’t know a Laffer Curve (or any other economic precept) from a laugh track, said his own de facto support for Republican causes and candidates owed almost wholly to social and moral issues. Otherwise, he could be a Democrat. Even Moral Majority mogul Jerry Falwell, on a visit to Memphis some years back, had said much the same thing.

For better or for worse…No, this isn’t a matter of “better or worse.” It’s just reality -- which one post-modern school of philosophy defines, simply enough, as “that which is the case.”

With Bush backing in again and the GOP stealthily gaining elsewhere, Republicanism is increasingly the case.

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