Thursday, January 12, 2006

Speaking Of Franklin Booby Traps, Updated

I listened to Franklin's State Sen. Jim Bryson (R) give reasons this morning for his resolution "to ask" indicted Sen. Ward Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga) and indicted Sen. Kathryn Bowers (D-Memphis) to sit out the ethics debate after two or three Democratic Senators spoke against it. His only reasons:
  1. He had worked on it and thought about it for a long time.
  2. A strong message needed to be sent out to constituents that Senators were serious.
  3. It was the right thing to do.
He would have been better served giving no reasons at all, because:
  1. Time and energy spent are moot if an act is dubious to begin with. A songwriter may spend a chunk of time and energy coming up with "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover," but that does not mean leaving a lover is always a moral course of action.
  2. Anybody can send a message that Senators are serious; the real acid test is what ethical restrictions the Senate actually comes up with to apply to themselves, not whether they symbolically purge a couple of easy targets from their midst. Asking two indicted Senators to leave does not accomplish meaningful ethical reform.
  3. "What is the right thing to do?" is exactly the question. Sen. Bryson made no mention of what made his bill "the right thing to do." He was begging the question and talking in circles without giving any answers.
These reasons are not reasons at all. They were evasive.

My overall impression was that Bryson was attempting to scapegoat, so that a surrogate would take the heat off of the legislature. And I do not mean that Crutchfield and Bowers were the sacrificial victims. I believe that Bryson was quite willing to sacrifice due process--that accused individuals in general are innocent until proven guilty--in order to give his party a strategic advantage in front of rolling cameras in what may well be a protracted struggle over reforming state government.

01/12/2006, 9:00 p.m. Update: MooreThoughts posts an e-mail from Sen. Bryson that lends some insight into his motivation. He writes that the "very presence [of Sen. Crutchfield and Sen. Bowers] adds to the tension" in Senate chambers. I once had a football coach who offered sage advice that I think applies to the Senator: "Suck it up." I don't care if Old Scratch himself is sitting beside you with his red-hot pitch fork aimed at your sweat-soaked bum, Senator. You are an adult and an elected representative who is supposed to be doing what is best for the people regardless of who is making you a little more tense than you otherwise might be. There is no good reason why the presence of a couple of indicted Senators should delay the process of ethics reform.

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