Wednesday, December 03, 2008

On the Scene? How Was Crafton "Shrewd"?

Local paper publishes balanced treatment of Eric Crafton and English Only and discovers the connections to John Tanton (to which I alluded in February 2007).  Some of the Crafton mythology debunked today:
As for the people who would be most affected by English Only, the Woodbine Community Center attracts them all: Kurds, Somalis, Hispanics. Monday through Thursday, for $10 a week, they hitch rides, swap bus transfers and do whatever it takes to make their ESL classes after work.

Their teacher, a no-bullshit Irishwoman from Chicago, has no time for anyone who wants to tell her that her students aren't trying. Especially in September, when classes threaten to spill into the hall. She sees the truth: There aren't enough hours in the day to work, study and raise a family. Her students' best teachers, she says, are the children they're caring for at home.
But balance and equivalence can obscure the factual. The Scene piece glosses over the glaring inconsistencies in Crafton's tactical attempts to win the bid for English Only.

For example, Caleb Hannan argues that Crafton engineered a "shrewd" tactical shift in response to Mayor Bill Purcell's veto on English Only:
Then came Mayor Bill Purcell's veto. With it arrived what appeared to be a makeover for English Only .... With the superficial change in legislative language came a shrewd change in the argument's focus. No longer was the bill aimed at illegals. According to Crafton, his legislative Priority One is the momentum of legal immigrants into mainstream society.
That doesn't square with the actual timing and inconsistencies of Eric Crafton's statements about the motivations behind English Only.

Purcell vetoed English Only in February 2007. Crafton was already saying in 2006 that English Only had nothing to do with illegal immigration at the same time he was making arguments in Council using illegal immigration as a pretext for English Only. My own interpretation of Crafton's tactics after watching him for the last 4 years on the council is that he uses any tactic, from moment to moment, that he believes will help get him want he wants, and he does not manuever shrewdly, but with wholesale, like a sledgehammer demolishing dry wall.

When I watched Crafton in 2006-07 he seemed to captain English Only with a heavy-handed opportunism that was used both before and after the mayoral veto, and not without self-contradiction. And in one case his inconsistency gave way to dishonesty. He responded to an effort to kill his English Only bill in 2006 by offering to indulge fellow council member requests for community education provisions for immigrant Nashvillians (the motion to table English Only was consequently defeated by 5 votes). However, when council passed English Only in 2007, there was no community education provision in the bill. There has also been no talk of community education since Mayor Purcell's veto.

If Eric Crafton is so shrewd, then why did he not peel away votes from the opposition by including the provisions they asked for? Instead, he has been working the anti-immigrant base. That's as deliberative as a sledgehammer. Using the term "shrewd" to describe that is some high gloss on what actually happened.

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