The Funniest Thing You Will Read in Tennessee Gubernatorial Politics Today

So, the state’s Angriest Gubernatorial Candidate went to talk to the executives at Eastman Chemical Co. In most places, executives at big corporations and the GOP go hand in hand. But after meeting with Wamp, Eastman CEO Jim Rogers says, “I’m guessing he’s never had a cup of decaf in his life.”

Don’t get me wrong. I really, really don’t want Zach Wamp to win. For starters, if he makes the whole state sleep with a gun next to its head, a lot of people in Kentucky are going to get squashed under the world’s largest firearm. And I like the people of Kentucky. Even the ones who send me mean emails.

But it’s no secret that he enjoyed using cocaine as a youngster. As have many folks. And that he says he has moved on from his cocaine use. Fine. Again, many folks can do that.

But I think we have to kind of hear that echoing in what Rogers is saying here, you know? That Rogers is trying to subtly signal that something’s weird here.

We could rephrase what Rogers is saying as “Wow, this dude seems to have some kind of life-long hyperactivity,” right? And once we’ve reached for the life history…

I think Wamp’s in a tough place. He’s been open about his past drug use. He says he’s no longer using. And he may just be a really intense guy. But it just doesn’t take much, especially among Southerners, to put quicksand under someone’s feet. This is the region that made “bless your heart” a phrase that could convey more information about a person’s shortcomings than a 5,000 word essay in most regions.

But that doesn’t mean that’s the only phrase that can say everything while leaving so little to object to. I think Rogers has shown us another shining example of how it’s done.

11 thoughts on “The Funniest Thing You Will Read in Tennessee Gubernatorial Politics Today

  1. Pingback: ‘Cup of decaf’ the new ‘bless your heart’? : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  2. I don’t know, Aunt B. Congressman Wamp can come across as intense, or hyper, regardless whether one knows a single thing about his past. He apparently has a lot of energy.

    Your hypothesis is plausible enough, though. Who knows?

  3. Aunt B, I interned for Wamp as a college freshman in the summer of 2000. Please, do not allege any type of drug use. He’s very direct and can be intense.

    Having worked with him and his staff, I have nothing but utmost respect for them. They’re incredibly professional and honestly care about Tennesseans. You may disagree with his politics, but don’t infer drug use here.

    Wamp is also one of the most athletic sitting Congressional members. Within DC circles, he’s known as one of the “fit” members. (There aren’t that many.) Growing up, he and his family lived near my parents in Hixson (suburb of Chattanooga). I’d see him at the North River YMCA while he was in town and can attest to his commitment to exercise.

    He’s also extremely down-to-earth and friendly. Even when he was on a long run on the treadmill, folks would stop by to talk with him. He always took the time to patiently speak with every single person. This happened every single break and recess for years while I was a high school student. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to intern for him.

    When was the last time you heard of a drug user with a deep commitment to physical fitness?

    The drug thing really needs to stop. You’re exemplifying the worst traits of bloggers here. It is a cheap shot and gets cheaper with every continued variation of this allegation.

  4. Yep–that’s some pretty deft telegraphing going on in that phrase.

    See, I read it as more of a “Bless his HEART, that child ain’t right” comment, because I’d forgotten about the other stuff in the wake of all the much more alarming stuff coming out of his mouth. Also because that’s what I say every time, in my head, whenever I see him jumping on my TV.

    i say that about a lot of people, though — some of whom I have voted for, and some of whom I have not. You can pretty much figure which way I’m leaning on Cong. Wamp Wamp. (I hear Red Allen yelling “Wamp wamp” from “Get the Mop” every time I see/hear the congressman now. Wamp wamp.)

  5. Pingback: Mid-Week Meanderings | Speak to Power

  6. Adrienne, your naive take on “a person who is physically fit cannot possibly be a cokehead” is sweet. But for seriously, coke is a drug that goes hand in hand with high-performance athletics. Championship athletes (like, for example, most of the 1980s Mets) like coke for the euphoria, the surge of energy, and the ability to keep playing longer without feeling the fatigue. Old-school trail bikers used to finance their sport by smuggling over mountainous terrain, using and dealing as they went. And then there’s the cultural thing of associating it with performance and masculinity.

    Now, true enough, some people going through what addicts might refer to as “dry drunks” might go hard on the training as a way to stay off the drug without actually getting their head together, substituting one highly ritualized extreme activity for another. President Bush was a famous dry drunk. Dry drunks also have the characteristics of using highly excessive language, repetition of aggressive images in overreaction of imagined threats, projection. That shoe is fitting.

    And please, sister. People who use drugs, recreationally or as addicts, can be genuinely down to earth and friendly. He could be the nicest guy in Tennessee — And Still Have A Drug Problem. The “he couldn’t possibly have ever used drugs because he was kind and thoughtful and he jogs at the YMCA” is pretty much a non-starter.

  7. You know, I don’t give a hoot if a candidate did drugs in the past, and frankly I don’t have a problem with an elected official enjoying adult activities, including drugs, on their time off. The problem I have is when someone like Wamp, who, like nearly everyone else (except perhaps Adrienne), had some ‘youthful indiscretions’ in their past, wants to punish others for exactly the same behavior.

    Wamp is running for governor. That means, among other things, he will be in charge of jailing other people for their cocaine use. Is he prepared to issue a blanket pardon for all non-violent drug offenders if he wins? Why does he get to essentially get away with a crime while at the same time punishing others for it?

    That’s what I don’t get about this new trend of politicians coming clean about their past drug use. They’re basically admitting to a crime. If these law-and-order types -really- believed that their drug use rose to the level of criminality, if they honestly felt any guilt about it whatsoever, they would turn themselves in to law enforcement. But they don’t. They would probably say it’s not necessary because they’ve gotten off drugs.

    So… if all these politicians are able to get their act together without the need for intervention by law enforcement, why isn’t everyone else entitled to that same opportunity? By publicly confessing their “crime,” they’re actually making the case that it’s not a crime at all.

  8. But, but, autoegocrat, they’re special! Like all the protesters at abortion clinics who sneak in the back door for their own procedures. They have reasons!

  9. Wow. I really thought the “never had decaf” thing was just blogger editorializing, but apparently not. If that’s the quote, just imagine what’s left unsaid?

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