Hamilton County's Democratic party is taking a beating it doesn't deserve because two of its elders -- Paul Smith and Ward Crutchfield -- won't leave the podium. It's past time for them to go.
Crutchfield should know better than to call attention to himself. The 83-year-old former state senator left office in disgrace under the cloud of his felony bribery conviction in the Legislature's Tennessee Waltz scandal. How he managed in 2007 to wrangle an in-home penal sentence for that offense, and retain control of a $145,000 campaign war chest, still bothers many of his former constituents.
Yet Crutchfield has needlessly resurrected all those bad extortion memories recently by teasing suggestions that he may run for the City Council next year. He should save himself, and the party, from such an embarrassment.
Crutchfield's media flirtation is bad enough on its face; Paul Smith didn't have to add to the disgust. Regardless, disclosure of his mailing of an agenda package with a sexist joke to local Democrats for a meeting last month shows him to be a tone-deaf chauvinist who sees no harm to the party's reputation, if not his, for gratuitously printing an off-color misogynist poke at women.
He called it a harmless joke and claimed the Democratic women who objected were "troublemakers" who should have brought their objections to him instead of taking them to the media. That's a shamelessly unimaginable excuse. Even more strangely, Smith said the joke was intended illustrate what a "political Neanderthal" Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican senatorial candidate, was for saying (just days before Smith mailed his agenda) that women can "shut down" their body's capacity to become pregnant in cases of "legitimate rape," and therefore do not need the right to abortions for rape and incest.
Hello. Such a connection is as incomprehensible as Akin's outrageous notion. Indeed, Smith's sexist joke on the Democratic Party agenda automatically defines him as equally offensive as Akin. He obviously does not possess the intellect, sensitivity or character that his party needs. He should resign his party post immediately.
Sadly, Smith has refused even to apologize. He's just made matters worse by wading deeper into the swamp that has now trapped him. When asked about his circulation of the sexist job, he went to say that "we ought to honor women, we ought to give them the right to run for office." Apparently, the 75-year-old county party leader is still sexist enough to believe that men somehow possess the right to decide to let women run for office.
What a backward idea. Who is this "we," presumably men, that have authority to grant women the right to run for office? That is their constitutional right as a citizen. If Smith's notion isn't political Neanderthal thinking, what is? No wonder reports of Smith's sexist joke on the agenda for a Democratic Party meeting have grabbed national attention. Smith must resign. He and Crutchfield have done enough damage to the Democratic Party.