Kelsey brought the pork to the public eyeMany people in the blogosphere on the Left side have criticized Rep. Brian Kelsey for his so-called stunt of putting bacon in an envelope in response to Democratic attempts to dole out $100,000 per House member and $300,000 per Senator in pure pork. Kleinheider apparently has the belief that Kelsey could better have voiced his opposition to this vote-buying scheme by giving a grand oration on the House floor.
Let us be realistic here: Jimmy Naifeh has near-absolute control over the place. If someone were to get up on the floor of the House and try to make what amounts to a real address-and not just have question time-there is every reason to believe that Naifeh would bring things to a quick halt. He has already done this when members attempt to ask real questions and not just feel-good fluff. Because the Tennessee House of Representatives functions in the way that it does, the press does not cover what happens there particularly well, either. Indeed, I find that coverage of the House by the mainstream press is extremely poor, and if you want to know what is really going on there, you have to watch sessions and committee hearings online and get to know some people on the Hill and keep in touch with those folks-otherwise, you will not know jack crap about what is really happening in our State government-and believe me, there are plenty at the Plaza who would love to keep it that way.
What some are calling "public investment" is really a desperation move, largely by the Democrats, to hang on to power. They want to spend away our surplus in vote-buying pork Robert Byrd style, and if Senate Republicans block this, they can then say "see, the Republicans don't want to improve your community." It is a raw political play designed to be used as an election issue. None of us were born yesterday and we see this for what it is.
In such a climate, Brian Kelsey's move to hand over the bacon in an envelope and refuse the pork in a very public way may have appeared juvenile to some, but it was the only way that he could draw any press attention to what was happening in our Capitol. After Kelsey's stunt, the press is starting to cover this appropriation and the pros and cons are all over the papers in a way that they were not before. Had Kelsey merely stuck to a speech on the House floor, it would likely have gotten little or no attention.
I agree with Dr. Martin Kennedy on this score. So-called "stunts" like that of Rep. Kelsey are often the only way to draw attention to these kinds of problems. The Democrats do not like it because it forces them to go on record and answer for their actions.
Labels: Tennessee politics