published Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Lamar Alexander is running scared

Has it been six years already? It sure doesn’t seem like six years have passed since the last time Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., slinked back to Tennessee to launch his bid for re-election. But there he was last Saturday, at press conferences in Nashville and Knoxville, hoping to reinvent history, ignore facts and stretch the truth in his efforts to make Tennesseans forget what a sad excuse for a U.S. Senator he has become.

Six years ago, after his first term, he was already being criticized. His votes in support of bloated budget bills, raising the debt ceiling and funding ridiculous green-energy boondoggles with billions of tax dollars befuddled conservative state lawmakers, thought leaders, policy wonks and, ultimately, voters.

Now, with a second term in the U.S. Senate coming to an end, Alexander has even more explaining to do. Besides his now-typical votes to increase federal spending and expand government powers, he infuriated many conservatives by supporting an $85 billion jobs bill and championing the START nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia in 2010. He also killed jobs and increased electric bills in Tennessee by voting in favor of the ridiculous Mercury and Air Toxics Standards regulations that do almost nothing to improve air quality or health.

Last year, Alexander left his post as the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate in an effort to escape some of the Republican Party’s principled stances, which he found incompatible with his own brand of deal-making. In other words, he liked making alliances with Democrats more than he liked the idea of being in the leadership. Since then, he has been busy hanging conservative, limited government policies out to dry in an effort to push various examples of liberal legislative lunacy.

Just last week, Alexander attempted to put a national online sales tax into a defense appropriations bill.

When Tennesseans confront Alexander about his liberal voting record, they are met with shock and indignation. Alexander tries to explain away his votes and defend his actions. In doing so he comes across like a 5-year-old denying eating a piece of cake — even though his chin is covered in icing.

After all, Alexander is a bastion of conservatism and limited government in his own head. And he remains perplexed how we — Tennessee’s “little people” — don’t view him the same way.

We’re all familiar with the idea of a welfare queen — an unemployed, single mother who, motivated by her unwillingness to work, becomes so proficient at manipulating the welfare system that she’s able to make a living off of taxpayers.

In the same way, Alexander has become America’s “Welfare King.” He has spent his life skipping between well-paying publicly funded elected and appointed positions without ever having a real job — or any sense of shame. After working in several taxpayer-funded political staffer positions, Alexander became Governor of Tennessee, then president of the University of Tennessee, then Secretary of Education, then U.S. Senator.

Despite living on the taxpayers’ dime for almost his entire adult life, Alexander has managed to turn a series of land deals, stock purchases and business ventures into a fortune worth more than $10 million, according to Roll Call.

•••

Apparently, Alexander has begun to realize that, this time around, things are different. Denying his liberal voting records isn’t going to work. Too many people know the truth. And too many people have begun to grow tired of paying his salary when he has become wealthy on the backs of taxpayers.

That’s why Tennessee’s senior senator has begun his re-election campaign a full 23 months before Election Day. He saw what happened to his friend Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a fellow Republican-in-name-only. Lugar failed to take a challenger supported by Indiana’s conservative grass-roots activists seriously until it was too late and was defeated in the Republican primary as a result.

That’s also why Alexander chose Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, as his campaign chairman and named Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell and U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Phil Roe, Diane Black, Stephen Fincher and Chuck Fleischmann honorary campaign co-chairmen.

In other words, Alexander co-opted pretty much everyone he could think of with the name recognition and the fundraising ability to seriously challenge him — including Duncan and Blackburn, the two most legitimate possible threats.

Alexander hopes by getting an early start and getting potential foes — and their money and name ID — in his corner, he can avoid a fight. But he won’t. That’s because Alexander lacks the one thing that’s most important to conservative voters in Tennessee: principles.

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Lamar Alexander is 73 years old. If he is able to complete a 6 year term, he will be 79 years old.

Alexander needs to retire, and not run. There are many bright, energetic, and intelligent business minded people that could run.

Mr. Johnson writes, "Despite living on the taxpayers’ dime for almost his entire adult life,"

A lifetime of 6 figures plus benefits is a good job, not public service. Where is the sacrifice in that deal?

December 9, 2012 at 12:20 a.m.
LibDem said...

A politician who doesn't vote his party's line? That's heresy!

December 9, 2012 at 8:52 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Alexander, Haslam, and Zack Wamp have all made a living out of wearing conservative sheep's clothing over a wolfish, corporatist, lobby-loving soul.

None are conservatives; rather moochers and parasites available to whatever special interests pays their bills.

December 9, 2012 at 10:42 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Independent thinkers willing to compromise need not apply for work with the current extremist Tennessee GOP.

Punish statesmanship...elevate partisanship...crush the moderates... bring America all the way to her knees...is that what Drew is advocating? That's sure what this editorial sounds like.

December 9, 2012 at 11:26 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

I believe that Drew is pointing out is that politicians of every ilk are dressed in the garments of conservatives, liberals, socialists, fascists, but are the same liars and self-aggrandizers, and power hungry for more. They operate on the principle of self-interest above all else.

Titles may change like fashions, but human nature does not.

December 9, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Lamar Alexander has never exactly been my hero - far from it. But I at least respect him for not being a blind-deaf-and-dumb, toe-the-party-line conservative. He has not been afraid to look at the bigger picture of any issue and vote accordingly. Conservatives today are talking about the importance of bipartisanship and meeting THEM halfway, but when a Republican actually puts that bipartisanship into practice and crosses that party line in any way, he/she is looked upon as lacking "principles."

December 9, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Alexander has done some things right, but all in all he is a statist, a classic example of everything that is wrong with the Republican party. I hope he is solidly defeated.

December 9, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
hambone said...

The MOB is eating its OWN !

December 9, 2012 at 7:57 p.m.
aae1049 said...

hambone, that is funny, "eating its own." The new party of the future generation will be libertarians. Teenagers and college kids seem to identify with the platform, more so than with the Dims.

December 9, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

I think you are wrong about the libertarians. If they ever get more exposure, such that more people begin to take them seriously enough to really study their platform, it will become evident that they lack any substance.

We have been mired in this anti-government phase for a long time and it has been directly responsible for our undoing, but we will eventully pass through it, when it finally becomes obvious that the nation needs a unified central government if we are going to solve the major problems that plague us. We have wasted a lot of precious time on this juvenile notion of limited government and "states' rights" as any kind of solution to the major issues. Libertarians, like anti-government conservatives, have no answers to anything other than to proclaim "states' rights."

It might be true that a large number of younger people say that they identify with the libertarian ideology but only because they are superficially enamored of their rallying cry of "individual freedom." Of course, who would argue against "individual freedom?" But the self-centered sort of individual freedom libertarians speak of - with only minimal or no regulations or restraints to protect the poorer and disadvantaged among us - is impossible and not even desirable in a country as big and as diverse as ours. Libertarians basically advocate social darwinism, a survival-of-the-fittest society. Libertarians will not survive because their philosophy itself is not "fit" for survival in this vast multi-cultural society that will only get through this impasse with unity and cohesion, whether it's forced upon us or we finally come to our senses and agree to agree more than disagree. I don't see any miraculous coming together, though. Our ideological gridlock and inability to agree on common sense solutions will probably be our undoing.

December 9, 2012 at 11:34 p.m.
CathyB3 said...

Tennessee is a welfare state!

Now, now, let's not yell so loudly about the moochers. Frankly, moochers R us! Yup, the Feds give Tennessee about a dollar and a quarter for every dollar received from us.

I don't hearing anyone yelling to send our take to any of those states who aren't receiving an even repay. Oh well, wellfare folks like us never appreciate a thing they get.

December 9, 2012 at 11:47 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Rickaroo, thanks for that thoughful post. I would posit that the unification we all wish for may be a victim of our form of seperation of powers. We seem to be nearly ungovernable in that whichever party is out of power seems able to block or radically dilute the ideas of the other. In a parlaimentary system the ruling party can actually implement their agenda. They may lose the affection of the voters, but that is reflected at the next election.

The US Congress is largely bought by the corporations pushing for their own interests. We really don't have a government of and by the people. The most successful participatory democratic countries seem to be mostly small. Think Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, the Baltics, Luxembourg, New Zealand...even Australia and Canada have relatively small populations. China certainly seems unlikely to be able to sustain their success over time because of their enormous population. Their rich are leaving now in unprecedented numbers.

We have seen the old Soviet Union break apart into smaller units...the same with Yugoslavia. The British Empire certainly broke apart. It seems that when things get too unwieldy, countries break apart.

I can't see how anything short of calamity can bring the US body politic together as things now stand.

December 10, 2012 at 2:21 a.m.
jesse said...

Nucanuck!

Maybe the only way to get it right is to totally destroy the old system and start over from scratch!O.K. Just what NEW system would you advocate? If you think about it all the systems have been tried and sooner or later they all FAIL!The monkey wrench into the gears IS human nature! we would rather go to war over bull sh!t than solve a problem! Whats going on in the congress right now PROVES it !!

December 10, 2012 at 7:20 a.m.
rolando said...

We really don't need to try a "new" system, jesse. The old one worked just fine for a couple hundred years. In any case, it probably WILL require a total destruction of the existing semi-royal system...we really need to become a Republic again instead of a Democracy. For the important issues, Majority Rule hasn't worked out too well.

December 10, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
rolando said...

It really doesn't matter who is elected to any office anymore; they ALL do whatever the H they want after they get in...and we keep re-electing them anyway.

Look for Moochelle to run in 2016. Both a woman and black??? A shoe-in.

Plus the 47% will blindly vote for more free stuff...provided the rape of our country leaves enough "stuff" to plunder. Socialism always ends up with the ruling elite divvying-up a country's resources.

December 10, 2012 at 10:07 a.m.
riverman said...

Yeah, why don't we nominate somebody like the 2 idiots in Missouri and Indiana and give up a sure Seat in the Senate.

December 10, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.

Funny, how the next column is calling for Obama to be bipartisan, but you reject it in your own.

Guess you could ask Mourdock "my idea of compromise is to be what I want from democrats" to come South.

Aae1049, funny how that doesn't jive with the manufactured quote from Churchill. But teenagers and young adults believe a lot of things. Some with the naive wisdom of youthful innocence, some with the stubborn blindness of the inexperienced. Much like some seniors learn bitter cynicism and others learn wisdom.

Jesse, try proportional representation instead f winner-takes-all.

Rolando, yes so well with racial discrimination, poverty, child labor, and pollution. You may look at the past with tinted lenses, but don't pretend it worked fine. You want to know why America grew so wealthy? Because of an abundance of natural resources to exploit. I don't see that opportunity coming up again without some radical change.

December 10, 2012 at 11:10 a.m.
anniebelle said...

aae1049, "Teenagers and college kids seem to identify with the platform, more so than with the Dims." A little factoid for you. Obama easily won the youth vote nationally, 67 percent to 30 percent, with young voters proving the decisive difference in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to an analysis by the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Obama won at least 61 percent of the youth vote in four of those states.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83510.html#ixzz2Eg2nMnBA

December 10, 2012 at 2:01 p.m.
rolando said...

Break that "national youth vote" out by minority status, annieb.

Your statement that "67 percent [of] young voters" went for The Obama is true...except for the white kids. The blacks, Asians, and former Mexicans voted Democrat...the whites went for Romney by about the same percentage. Perhaps because they can read and comprehend what The Obama is saying/doing.

In any case, it is a moot point. The Obama, as he is fond of saying, "won".

December 10, 2012 at 7:11 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Rickaroo, it is a fact there is a growing Libertarian movement, or maybe you missed what is occurring with Ron Paul. I am not a Ron Paul supporter, but there is a movement of change. My observation in younger, even college students is that they reject both the Dem and Repub. party system. There is merit in rejecting the political party system. They tend to reject overwhelming government debt, and prefer smaller gov. Disagree all you wish, that is my observation around youth.

The Libertarian platform has as much substance as any political party. Your rejection is noted, but is meaningless to those that embrace a limited government ideology. I sincerely doubt that your liberal interpretation would much to them.

December 11, 2012 at 8:40 a.m.
aae1049 said...

anniebelle, a little factoid for you. I referred to youth trending to Libertarian ideology in a growing movement that rejects both parties. I never wrote they were a majority, but I do see a changing political dynamic in youth.

December 11, 2012 at 9:01 a.m.

Lamar Alexander has newly announced opposition I found in perusing the web on google search - Larry Crim of Nashville recently filed federal papers with the U.S. Senate to run against Lamar in 2014. On Crim's Statement of Organization papers filed with the Federal Election folks, he lists his website at: http://www.LarryCrimUSSenate.com Based on information there Larry Crim is a 5th generation Tennesseans, who has a B.A. Major Psych Minor Political Science Univ. of Tenn, Master of Public Administration - U.T. & TSU, M.A. Major Psychology from MTSU, did his Psych Practicum work at Vanderbilt and is Executive Chair of Christian Counseling Centers of America, Inc., a faith based initiative doing affordable mental health counseling and free disaster relief through churches. So, is he a Career Politician like Lamar? NO. Is he qualified for public "service"? YES - in education & experience. Does he offer a fresh approach? YES...Because from what I've seen he's never held public elective office. PLUS....PLUS...++++ in my book. Plus he's obviously committed to helping people by what he decided to study and did and does with his life, which is what we need in a public "servant", to serve others. I like the fact that Mr. Crim would understand the whole gamut of issues related to our society of increasing violence because of his mental health professional background,in addition to his involvement with a faith based group and churches. Government cannot do it all. Government was not intended to do it all. Churches are part of the answer. Parents are part of the answer. Teachers are part of the answer. Instilling values is what will keep people from doing heinously violent and unimaginable acts to their fellow human beings. Government is a part of the answer too, it has a place, but shuld not be "all over the place". I applaud people like Mr. Crim for the dedication to get involved, and be a part of the solution. So, Mr. Alexander, it's time for your 50 year career politician ways to retire and relieve us of your "help" before you go any further into exempting and bailing out big business at the expense of small business and jobs and ruining what's left of my retirement funds by your greedy grab for my social security, and that of every other American who has kept their part of the bargain by paying into it over a lifetime. Sure, you've got your retirement, and it's from us, the public, who've supported your career path on the public dole your entire life. We need a voice in government in Washington to speak for the people of Tennessee for a change. I'm saying check into the Crim for U.S. Senate web site which says "For ALL Tennesseans" it's at: http://www.LarryCrimUSSenate.com - and I just visited his personal fb page at http://www.facebook.com/Larry.Crim so go there too, the personal page has a lot of info about him and his candidacy.

February 15, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.
chet123 said...

lAMAR ALEXANDER....REFUSE TO CATER TO THE SOUTHERN GOOD OLD BOYS HATE!!!

WHAT WRONG WITH HIM????

HA HA HA !!!!!

April 20, 2013 at 2:50 p.m.
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