A sad commentary on our politicsState Senator Ward Crutchfield, who took bribes and accepted cash from undercover federal investigators posing as members of a phony company called E-Cycle as part of the Tennessee Waltz investigation is reportedly going to change his plea today. Under the circumstances, I think it is a fairly safe bet that Crutchfield will enter a guilty plea.
I ought to be rejoicing at the impending Republican gains that will likely result from Crutchfield's downfall. Even though Tennessee Waltz showed us that corruption was occuring within both parties, it was the party of legislative power for nearly a century and-a-half, the Democratic Party, from whence most of the guilty participants have come. Yet I find myself with mixed feelings.
I had similar bittersweet emotions the day that Ron Ramsey was chosen by the Tennessee Senate as Speaker of the Senate and Lieutenant Governor. I was joyous that Ramsey had won, and I thought that it was a change that was long overdue. However, I found myself genuinely saddened that such a distinguished Tennessean as John Wilder, who had served for 36 years as Lieutenant Governor, and who may truly be the last of a dying breed was now really in the twilight of his lengthy and noteworthy political career.
In the case of Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga-Army Veteran, graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, American Legion member, Shriner, former Democratic Leader of the Tennessee Senate, and former Chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party-he came from an old and distinguished Chattanooga family and led what might be called a privileged life. He wasn't really in want of anything and didn't have to live on a tight budget. He gave much of himself in service to our State and to the community of Chattanooga, especially (by all accounts) to those in need. He was well-liked and had he not taken cash for legislation, the man would likely be in the State Senate until the Second Coming.
Tennessee Waltz began when people anonymously complained that bribes and kickbacks were already taking place and John Ford and Ward Crutchfield were reportedly right in the thick of it. All of this begs the question: Why did someone like Ward Crutchfield feel the need to engage in such activity? What about that kind of thing made Crutchfield think it was fine? Most importantly, are the politics not only of Tennessee but the entire country so filled with filth and corruption that the best men of our communities-men of distinction like Ward Crutchfield (the kind of men that we would normally send to the State Senate), are not immune from participating in the dirt?
It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in American politics in 2007.
Labels: Tennessee politics