Friday, January 11, 2008

A testament of values

I firmly believe that there are good people in public service within both political parties, but there are times when you can see the difference in values between our two parties in a very clear, and sometimes very unfortunate fashion. Such a distinction could be seen clearly in Nashville yesterday.

Rep. Rob Briley (D-Nashville) doesn't just have an alcohol abuse problem-that led to his arrest last September for driving under the influence of alcohol. Briley also has a problem with disrespect for law enforcement, disregard for the authority of the police, and a distinction of believing himself to be above the law. That led Briley to flee Sheriff's Deputies who were trying to apprehend him,
resist arrest when they found him, and vandalize a Sheriff's vehicle when it was clear he was caught. Perhaps this attitude exists because Briley comes from one of Middle Tennessee's elite political families, but to say that Briley has issues would be a major understatement.

Were Briley a Republican caught in criminal behavior, the Republican Caucus would likely treat Briley in the same way that they treated former State Rep. Chris Newton, who was convicted of taking bribes in the
Tennessee Waltz Affair. Newton was completely disavowed and encouraged to resign, and it was made clear that Chris Newton's values were not the values of the Republican Party or of its House or Senate Leadership. The Democrats who were arrested in the Waltz were often lionized among their fellow Democrats, with former Lt. Governor John Wilder going so far as to suggest that John Ford and his cohorts had been railroaded, and that arresting those accused of crimes was "not God's way."

I don't doubt that Rob Briley does have a very serious problem with alcohol abuse, and it is true that Briley needs both professional and spiritual help. Actions have consequences, however, and resisting arrest, assaulting an officer, and vandalizing a law enforcement vehicle ought to have more serious professional implications than merely to be shrugged off.

So how did the Democrats react to Briley's reappearance in the Tennessee House of Representatives yesterday? They
gave the man who disgraced their Caucus as well as himself a loud ovation.



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