I can’t stand a tail that insists on wagging the dog. The tea party is such a tail and it’s trying its best to wag the Republican Party.
In this case, the tail is located too far from the brain, which is composed of old, hard, grisly material and contains no gray matter at all.
The most recent example of the tea party’s dog-wagging desire is its effort to recruit a candidate against Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, one of the most sane and balanced Republicans in America.
From 1979 to 1987, Alexander was governor of Tennessee, and I had my problems with him when I was county executive in Hamilton County from 1978 to 1994. He kept cramming state felons into Hamilton’s little workhouse.
But so did Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter, who served from 1987 to 1995. When he was running, McWherter promised me he would stop the practice of shipping felons our way, but he didn’t. Finally, I went to federal court to get relief and a ruling against the state.
My past experiences with Alexander might incline you to think I would oppose him, but the greatest danger to America today is the breakdown in bipartisanship, and Alexander is one of the few Republicans who sees this.
It is more patriotic to support a man who has the good sense and historic vision to see the desperate need for bipartisan cooperation than it is to remove a senator who is not far enough to the right. If we could replace a half dozen of the tea party favorites, we might have a functioning American government.
A Times Free Press article on the tea party’s attempt to remove Alexander said: “The conservative-believing national groups will help fund a sound challenger.” I know how big a role money plays in politics these days, but believe me, we do not need the influence of these groups in Tennessee politics.
While the tea party is fussy about Alexander’s credentials, saying he votes like a right-wing Northern liberal Republican, they’re finding it hard to recruit a candidate sufficiently unknown to sell him in such a short time. I am amused that some are pushing for Kevin Kookogey, a former Williamson County GOP activist. The best thing about having him as a candidate is that we know what everyone would call him. At last we’d have a candidate whose name fits him.
Lt. Gov. and state Sen. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, recently said, “I get a dozen emails a week asking me to run against Alexander.” I don’t doubt it.
When you realize that Alexander’s voting record got him an ‘A’ ranking from The National Rifle Association, a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life and The National Federation of Independent Business, and that he has voted with the majority of Republican senators 83 percent of the time, it makes you realize what a kook the tea party is hunting to run against him.
Norm Ornstein, a conservative scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, said Alexander “has always been viewed as one of those guys who is a problem solver looking for ways to work with others.”
Like I said, the tail is too far from the brain to let it wag the dog.