After my day in WTF? land–and can I just say that I felt so bad because I had coffee with one of my favorite people on the planet, someone it would have been completely inappropriate to tell about what had just happened, and I couldn’t pay a lick of attention to him. I was completely faking being interested while my brain echoed with, “My god! Why were you going to wipe that lump of earwax and plastic on my desk?! In front of me? Why god, why?!?!?!?!?!”s from earlier in the day. Not that god was going to do that, but… ugh… anyway.–I caught the end of Haslam’s State of the State.
Eh, it didn’t suck. His digs at the federal government are annoying and hilarious. But, in general, he said the things I would expect a non-evil Republican to say. And he seemed willing to put some skin in the game and ask the legislature for at least judicial reform to his liking (and against the liking of many of them). I think it’s going to be interesting to watch him position himself for the next election. Last night, he did some moving-to-the-center bits that made me laugh because it means that he thinks the Tea Party is over. Those folks aren’t a cohesive enough unit anymore to need his pandering.
The thing that’s got to be at the back of his mind–and watch for this because I bet it’s at the back of Beth Harwell’s as well–is that this state already has a large, disgruntled voting block with no state wide candidates that represent them. It’s not that hard to stand in front of the state and say, “Listen, you already know who I am. You already know all the ways my political beliefs differ from yours, so I am never going to unpleasantly surprise you. And look how I’ve managed to reign in the worst impulses of my party.” And it’s not that hard to believe that Democrats would respond to that.
Which, of course, then makes it more likely that Democrats will try to position themselves similarly–which is unfortunate–because you know they’ll think voters are responding positively to Haslam and Harwell’s positions and not to the promise of being who they claim to be and reigning in the far right. So, that’s going to suck and be hilarious.
But look for some reaching out to Democratic voters’ concerns. Haslam and Harwell want those votes.
” And look how I’ve managed to reign in the worst impulses of my party.”
How did he rein in those impulses? He signed HB-600 which nullified the equality provision Metro approved.
He supported gunsgunsguns, he fraked the teachers, he fraked the unions, he’s going after workers comp next plus vouchers and more welfare for the rich. Almost anything Campfield and Ramsey have pushed has his support.
And now he’s willing to screw over public school students with a voucher program. He’s mild-mannered, but he’s still bad for Tennessee.
I agree that is speech was more moderate than I’ve seen but I have to agree with your other commenters. He’s not build bold, he’s cruising in my opinion. Haslam and Harwell don’t need democratic votes now (they might later) but his words, although swaying, have not been followed up with significant action. He’s allowed some horrendous legislation to pass in his first two years and it keeps coming. I think what we are seeing will be a behind the scenes battle between the far-right and the moderates. I do believe that Haslam is a moderate as is Harwell (I personally like them both) but it’s the Campys, the Ramseys and on a federal level, the Blackburns who are running the show right now. And we are looking at some environmental legislation that could prove devastating if it passes. And next year, constitutional amendments setting us back decades will be on the ballot.
I find that to be terrifying. That’s just my two cents.
I’m not saying that I don’t. And it’s not like I’m going to vote for either of them, ever. I’m simply saying that it counts for a lot when you have Tennessee politicians who go on TV (just today!) to insinuate that the president is in some way illegitimate and that starving children is somehow for their own good that there are Tennessee politicians who stand up on TV and don’t make asses of themselves.
We can yell until we’re blue in the face–and be right–about all the ways Haslam’s not as non-conservative as he comes across. But the truth is that people vote on how he comes across.
And right now, he’s making good motions to ensure he has no real opposition for reelection.
I’m not sure that Haslam getting up there and lying his head off is all that much better for Tennessee’s image.
Oh, from a political standpoint what Haslam did was dead-on last night. I agree with you 100 percent on that. He won’t have any opposition in the primary unless it is a whacked out tea-partier. BTW, Campy made Comedy Central’s blog a couple of hours ago. Funny thing is I’m not laughing.
Reading this post and the comments below it, I find myself quoting the eponymous line from a Jack Nicholson film from a few years ago: “What if this is as good as it gets?”