Friday, January 12, 2007

An opening shot straight at Hogg

House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower was kind enough to send me a copy of his opening remarks to the House, which were a response to Boss Hogg's opening address Tuesday after being re-elected as Speaker. I have to admit, I was surprised and impressed at just how gutsy the speech actually was. Here are some of the juiciest bits and my thoughts on them:

Mr. Speaker, I’ve heard it said that “great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss things. [And,] small minds discuss people.”

I rise today, not to discuss people, those of us who were - or who were not - assigned to various House committees or appointed committee chairmen.

This is an opening shot straight at Speaker Naifeh. While Naifeh talks the language of bi-partisanship, in practice he runs the House as if it is his personal fiefdom. The people that he wants in chairmanships are who gets appointed to them, and unless it happens to be one of those Republicans who takes a "go along to get along" attitude with Spinnin' Jimmy, it is hard for a Republican to get a hearing with the man. As Mumpower told me in our interview, that is one of the privileges of being in the majority-which is true. Naifeh, however, speaks the language of power sharing while he does not practice what he preaches, and that is the problem.

Many political pundits thought the same would be true for the Tennessee House. With House Republicans facing a deficit of 9 seats vacated by the retirement of our incumbents, some predicted us to return with only 40 Republican members of this body.

But, Mr. Speaker, House Republicans took a stand on those issues of importance to our constituents and we asked for their trust in our efforts to stand up for their values and beliefs.

The remarkable record of retaining House seats when we were supposed to lose them was, I had said here, a reason to keep Mumpower's predecessor on as Leader. He recognizes how miraculous the accomplishment is. If he acts in practice the way he talks in this speech, we will not call Mumpower "Leader." Instead, we may soon address him as "Mr. Speaker."

And now, House Republicans in Tennessee, not losing one single seat in this chamber, have a mandate from the citizens in our districts to reform the state’s immigration laws, to improve our state’s education system, and to make sure Tennessee is a low tax state. Let me make clear, a statewide property tax is a non-starter with House Republicans.

Obviously, Mumpower gets no disagreement from me on this score. If I had been in his shoes, I might have mentioned that an income tax in any way, shape, fashion, or form is not either-just for good measure.

And as I close, Mr. Speaker, I recognize for myself and wish to highlight for all members here, that according to Machiavelli, “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

House Republicans have certainly had long experience with the old conditions of state government. But, a new dawn has risen and a new order of things is at hand. And I, on behalf of the House Republicans, am anxious and ready for the challenge of leading change and am confident in our success.

Mumpower told me he was "sick" of being in the Minority. These remarks sound as if he is taking an all-or-nothing attitude for his tenure as Leader-Majority or Bust. As Kleinheider has said on more than one occasion, the Republican wave is coming. The only question at this point is whether that wave will occur before or after the 2010 census. Mumpower has four years to insure that we (the GOP) get our majority before Naifeh and his minions can try to gerrymander it away.

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