Monday, May 21, 2007

Ophelia: A sad situation

The temptation to reap political benefits may cause some to try to capitalize on the situation of State Senator Ophelia Ford. After all, here is a woman who so clearly cannot confront her problems or admit that they are there. Whatever issues are dogging Senator Ford, she clearly denies that there is any problem, only to say that she is "sick."

I have no doubt that Senator Ford is ill. It is whether that illness is a treatable sickness (in the same way that the flu might be), or whether it is a disease that is best treated by a twelve-step program that seems to be an open question. At least one reliable media-savvy blogger in the opposite party has been outspoken in her belief that Miss Ophelia is suffering from Jack and Jim Fever. I won't get into that speculation, only because if it is something else that could be even more disabling, I wouldn't want to mock that and make Senator Ford's disability a subject of ridicule.

The question of whether she is effectively serving her constituents and the larger people of the State of Tennessee is a legitimate one, however. If Ford's claims that she has an illness that is keeping her away from the Senate for weeks at a time are true, then she is not serving the people of her district in her absence. For Democrats as a whole, her "problem" is even more serious because with the Senate divided 16-16-1, her lengthy removals from the seat of power (along with Jerry Cooper, a Senator who we know has an alcohol abuse problem) are costing the Democrats influence and-in the end-giving Republicans an outright majority.

As a Republican I could gloat in such circumstances, but this is hardly a situation to boast about. Ophelia Ford's conduct over the last week has not only embarrassed her party, but has brought the Senate as a whole to a certain level of disgrace. Her continued refusal to admit she has a problem is not only costing her constituents representation, but is costing the people of Tennessee a salary for a Senator who is apparently not able to perform her duties.

This is the problem with Crumpism/Fordism in Memphis: The Machine that gave us John Ford, a man who existed in office by virtue of his name, gave us his sister-a woman clearly incapable of the duties of public office. One can only hope that the voters of Memphis will be intelligent enough to realize that just because someone is named Ford does not make them fit for service. I'm not saying that there aren't families in public service who aren't worthy of their political clout, or even "bosses" who haven't earned their status by doing for the folks. What I am saying is that name alone is not a qualifier, and Ophelia Ford proves daily that she is unqualified to serve in the Tennessee Senate.

How can I say this? Well, she continues to believe that her rant was somehow on-topic, when it has been demonstrated that it simply was not. No matter what her difficulties are, she is demonstrating by both her words and her actions that she is unaware of what is happening in the legislature. Most importantly, Ophelia Ford has a problem that she is refusing to acknowledge or confront.

Ophelia Ford needs help. That assistance cannot be found in the chamber of the Tennessee Senate.



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