A story like this deserves a soundtrack.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., is watching his re-election campaign implode. Like a boomerang that’s taken more than a decade to return home, the news of DesJarlais — a family practice doctor — having an affair with a patient at least 11 years ago and then a recorded conversation where he encourages her to have an abortion must have the pro-life freshman congressman more nervous than Paris Hilton on “Jeopardy.”
The good folks of the 4th District are interested in family values and pro-life legislation. Hard to square that with infidelity and abortion.
Maybe a good playlist can help.
So I went to see Chad Bledsoe, who’s been selling used music (Chad’s Records on Vine Street) in Chattanooga for nearly 24 years. Black coffee and tea in hand, we thumbed through the thousands of vinyl records (kids, ask your parents) in search of the perfect DesJarlais playlist.
Bledsoe, easily, was better at this than I was. One of his early suggestions: “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer.
“Might as well face it, buddy,” Bledsoe half-sung.
Nearby, customer Matt Myers chimed in.
“‘Papa Don’t Preach’ by Madonna,” he said.
Here are the top four songs we found to match with the DesJarlais scandal. With apologies to Casey Kasem (kids, ask your parents).
“(Hey, Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” by B.J. Thomas.
To paraphrase the Misfit in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”: Such news is no real pleasure in life.
I wish DesJarlais and every other politician were cleaner than Windex. But they’re not, and not only does DesJarlais face political questions that demand answers, he also may face reprimands from the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners over ethics violations.
So once again, we face the great sigh that has become politics, where voting too often seems like choosing the lesser of two evils. What is the approval rate for Congress? It’s flatter than Florida.
And once again, some politician’s done somebody wrong.
“Pressure” by Billy Joel.
DesJarlais is being challenged by state Sen. Eric Stewart, who will ride this horse until it falls, as it opens the door for a Democrat — gasp — to have a serious foothold in 4th District voting.
DesJarlais is under enormous pressure. But carrying another burden is Stewart, who couldn’t ask for a bigger scene to step into as the knight in shining armor. If he drops this ... well, it’s hard to imagine another way for a Democrat to win the 4th District in November.
“I Called for a Rope and They Threw Me a Rock” by Swamp Dogg.
Conservative voters called for a pro-family man and they get ... this?
How can conservative voters re-elect DesJarlais now? Do character and integrity have no meaning any more?
Are the Democrats that leprous to the conservative mind that voters would choose a doctor who encourages an abortion over a normal, middle-of-the-road Democrat?
What if the Republican candidate is a criminal? Where is the line in the 4th District sand?
This story may be more of a commentary on the sad state of Democrats — or the stubbornness of conservatives — than anything, especially if DesJarlais wins.
“I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson” by D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.
It’s always good to hope. Even when the odds are crazy. Like Jazzy Jeff beating up Mike Tyson.
But the human heart is an odd thing, and DesJarlais may have regrouped his life back on the straight and narrow. Crazier things thing have happened, right?
After all, folks are still buying vinyl.
Tuesday’s online-only column is based around sharing a meal or drinks — or music! — with someone in Southeast Tennessee or North Georgia. David Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.
David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...