Winner & Losers from the Durham Debacle

Yes, time now for one of RTP’s patented 20-20 hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking assessments of the recent drama at Legislative Plaza. Operating under the dictum of “actions have consequences,” there is more than enough to go around. Let start with our favorite – The Losers:


Beth Harwell – by engaging in her hands-off, ignore-the-problem until it metastasizes into an even bigger problem that must be addressed, Harwell put her entire caucus through a painful – and needless – exercise. She absolutely has known for months about most of the rumors swirling around Rep. Durham and yet she did not have the courage or leadership ability to simply call him into her office and tell him to cut the crap. Instead, she hid behind staffer Connie Ridley, who had a brief and cryptic meeting with Durham, allowing Beth to later to try and claim she had done something. The result of her lack of leadership was the cascade of events that led to yesterday’s caucus meeting.

Gerald McCormick — By instantaneously jumping on the anti-Durham bandwagon, and by encouraging other members to ramp up an internal, personal imbroglio, McCormick launched the actual mechanisms that ended up with yesterday’s caucus. GOP members need to remember that any member is at potential risk if all it takes to whip the political tar out of someone is over-hyped articles in the Tennessean and Gerald McCormick getting a couple of members to write a letter. Gerald’s personal temper tantrums and public and private berating of members of his own caucus are the stuff of legend down at the LP. Maybe Beth should get Connie to “have a conversation” with Gerald about this lack of professionalism.  Or maybe even call a caucus meeting to discuss his nasty attitude.

Mary Mancini – Mancini’s attempt to make the Tennessee Democratic Party relevant has now entered the comical/pitiful stage. She trots over to the Capitol to condemn the GOP and Durham, while ignoring the 5,000 pound ethical gorillas inside her own party. There is Rep. Joe Armstrong: indicted and standing trial. Hillary Clinton: being investigated by 150 FBI agents for criminal conduct. Bill Clinton, who is laughably being rolled out as the moral standard for sexual harassment activists. (Come to think of it, Bill could teach Jeremy Durham and Ryan Williams a thing or two about the proper use of fine cigars, but decorum does not permit us to elaborate here.)

Mancini is living proof that bat-shit crazy is no way to run a political party.

GOP House Leadership in general – All told, the lack of actual leadership among the leadership is a damning indictment of their ability to manage events in the House. Say what you will about Jimmy Naifeh, but does anyone believe for a second that he would have allowed events to spin so out of control so fast?

The Tennessean – By far the biggest loser was the Tennessean, who didn’t even attempt to disguise the hit-job on Durham as actual journalism. They took a couple of stories and proceeded to repeat them nearly two dozen times in 30 days, rarely adding anything new to the story – just repeating it ad naseum. This “new journalism” is rising like a cancer on their profession, dropping any pretense of impartiality or fairness in pursuit of a liberal ideology.

Instead, the Tennessean has become something of a joke inside the Capitol, with even detractors of Jeremy Durham expressing disgust at the way the Tennessean conducted itself. The Tennessean devolved into a bunch of rumor-mongering political hacks hiding behind a journalism byline, trolling the halls of the LP asking for dirt on anyone.

[Editors’ note: Okay, okay, we know what you’re thinking. Exactly how is hiding behind a byline and exposing political shenanigans any different than what RTP does every day? Well, for one thing, unlike the MSM none of us pretend to be journalists and any attempt to infer that we are journalists would make our mothers cry and our fathers disown us. We also have the courage to admit we are opinionated muckrakers, while the MSM haughtily makes the increasingly absurd claim they are unbiased and fair. Plus, unlike the Tennessean, we at RTP are almost invariably right…]

By the end of yesterday’s proceedings, the MSM had slipped into parody territory. Check out these tweets from outside the caucus room:

Boucher@Dave_Boucher1 (The Tennessean)

“Well, what do you think: Should the GOP remove Durham as House Majority Whip?

( ) Keep as whip

( ) Remove as whip

Yeah, nothing says “objective and unbiased journalism” like conducting an unscientific twitter poll while the news event is still unfolding….

Jill Cowan@JillCowan (The Tennessean)


“This is what it looks like when a bunch of reporters get booted from a real important meeting. #tnleg


Strangely, that’s also what it looks like when no “real important meetings” are taking place. Of course, reporter Cowan is from California, which would explain a real lot about what she considers real important, or even real journalism.

Zelinski@AndreaZelinski (Nashville Scene)

“Where I’m at. What is going on in there?”

closed doors

Ya know, Andrea, one could stare deep into your eyes and ask you the very same question.


Special Category: Winner and Loser

Jeremy Durham – Durham dodged a bullet yesterday, so in that sense, he is a winner. If he takes away the proper lessons from all this, and matures, he may yet see a revival of his political fortunes sometime in the coming years. But if he thinks this was some sort of “vote of confidence” and a license to business as usual and he finds himself in a similar situation in the future, he will find his defenders hard to find.


And now for the Winners:

None come to mind.

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