By now, all you political junkies out there have heard numerous rumors about the alleged extra-curricular goings on involving Rep. Jeremy Durham. Let us just say that if only a portion of them were true, then Jeremy would have already been thrown out of his church, his house or, at the very least, had a statue erected in his honor on Frat Row at UTK.
No, only Durham can answer for whatever he may or may not have done. The crew here at Rocky Top makes no rush to judgement, for or against Rep. Durham.
But in case you were too busy titillating yourselves at the expense of Jeremy, let us shine a little light on the actions of those who appear to have vested interests in the outcome and the implications those actions may have on other members of the legislature.
Let’s start with the Tennessean. In what was an obvious, carefully-timed placement of stories designed to deliver maximum pain to the politically conservative Durham, the Tennessean led everyone to believe that he was some sort of drug abusing child-porn advocate. Was the Tennessean’s barely-concealed glee over their pursuit of Durham the result of their liberal bias and self-serving desire to protect what remains of a left-leaning Haslam administration and it’s shrinking number of allies in the legislature? Nah, of course not.
Any legislator, especially a conservative, who gets caught shacking up with a cute young thing can count on the progressives at the Tennessean being all over it. Of course, when the Tennessean’s reporter assigned to the Durham story was outed for shacking up with a News Channel 4 reporter covering the same story and playing off of each other’s coverage, well, heck, that was just journalistic excellence in action. If they give Pulitzers for pillow talk, the Tennessean is a cinch to win that category.
Then came majority leader Gerald McCormick – an early rider on the kangaroo court bandwagon – who leaped at the chance to take a shot. Could Gerald’s instantaneous condemnation of Durham have anything to do with Durham occasional publicly musing that he might challenge McCormick for the majority leader post? Nah, of course not.
And then we have Speaker Beth Harwell, who apparently couldn’t summon the intestinal fortitude to personally speak to a wayward caucus member herself. Instead, she sent a legislative staff member to “talk to” Durham about the rumors – an act which neatly covered her derriere when the news stories broke. Never mind that Durham has not been charged nor has there been any complaint filed against him. Contrast that with when Rep. Curry Todd got arrested armed with a loaded gun while drinkin’ & drivin.’ Beth took her own sweet time to getting around to doing something about the transgressions of her political ally (whom she recently rewarded with an appointment to the panel that oversees police procedures and training – a little irony with your tea, Madame Speaker?). When Todd resigned his chairmanship, Harwell said the resignation was only “temporary.” It wasn’t until 7 months later, when Todd was indicted, that Harwell finally got around to saying the resignation was likely not temporary, but permanent.
But the bigger question: What the hell was she doing sending a lowly staffer to try and do what she could have quickly accomplished by calling Durham into her office for a two-minute meeting (“Jeremy, I’m hearing a lot of talk that you are screwing up. If it’s true, then stop it immediately or I will make your life miserable and will try to have your ass thrown out of the caucus. Capiche?”). Problem solved.
Instead she sent a staffer to do a leader’s job. Yeah, a real profile in courage. Just the kind of character flaws we look for in our next governor.
No, this article is not about Durham. But it is sure as hell about something. And that something is the establishment’s ongoing war against conservatives and the tactics they seem more than willing to embrace to accomplish their goals.
If recent events are the new standard for conduct, investigation and punishment, then practically every member is at risk. After all, everyone is guilty of something in their lives. If rumor, innuendo and MSM hatchet pieces is all it takes to remove someone from office, then everyone in Legislative Plaza needs to watch their back. That would include the married senior legislator who has been screwing around with his staff member for years (you know who you are). Who wants to cast the first stone? And if this is directed primarily at conservatives, then Rep. Rick “Bombs Away” Womick will be correct that it could create an all-out war that would leave the caucus and numerous political careers in shambles.
Durham is cannon fodder, delivered by either his own hand or by the hand of others with ulterior motives. If Durham has screwed up, let him pay the consequences. But the same goes for his detractors if they are proven wrong.
In the interim, RTP has a suggestion for everyone: Put down the rocks and step back into your glass houses. Present the evidence, act on it accordingly, then go back to the job people elected you to do. And let the Tennessean go back to doing what it does best: losing circulation.