Saturday, March 01, 2008

Perspective on the Hobbs controversy

I hadn't planned on writing about this morning's Tennessee Republican Executive Committee meeting, but stories about it are all over the Tennessee blogosphere today. I have never seen this much attention over an Executive Committee meeting at any level. The big eyes are a result of this press release written by our beloved Communications Director Bill Hobbs. The resulting national controversy from the release likely would not have happened at all were it not for a public rally for John McCain in Cincinnati at which popular Queen City talk show host Bill Cunningham used Barack Obama's middle name and earned McCain's ire.

When Republican Chairwoman Robin Smith hired Bill, both she and the Executive Committee knew that this was a man with a penchant for controversy. Known and respected in the blogosphere and in the Nashville area, Hobbs is someone who could help bring the party into the digital age. Tennessee is rich with blogging talent on the conservative and Republican side of the aisle, and having Bill Hobbs on board with the Tennessee GOP is a way for the party to harvest that talent and use it to benefit Republican candidates. After all, Robin Smith has said that her primary goal is to see a Republican majority in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Practically speaking, this is a goal about which the national party brass could really care less. None of those folks live here and have to put up with Jimmy Naifeh or his shenanigans, but they all want to play "get along with Johnny," so they would just as soon see Bill Hobbs get hung out to dry for using Barack Obama's middle name. If Bill Hobbs is dismissed from his position with the Tennessee Republican Party today, it will be because he is being used as the scapegoat for the party's failure to reach out to its own grassroots.

It has been rumored per Ken Whitehouse that some party bigwigs want rid of Hobbs. I have no doubt that this is true, and these same people (I have a pretty good idea who some of these folks are, but I will be a good Republican and abide by the 11th Commandment and mention no names) probably have no real problems with the Democratic majority in Nashville-I'm quite sure some, if not most of them voted for Phil Bredesen in the last election.

The only legitimate question in all of this should be whether Bill Hobbs should personally blog about State Republican Party affairs while serving as an employee of the State GOP. I must admit that I have mixed feelings about it. Bill isn't Stacey Campfield-a Republican State Representative expressing his views via a blog-and he isn't me, a party supporter and grassroots activist expressing his views via a blog. Bill Hobbs is the press man for the Republican Party, so it would be very easy for people to confuse the personal opinions of blogger Bill Hobbs with the public message of the Tennessee Republican Party as a whole. On the other hand, our party is not a party of censorship and we should not be the party of squelching internal dissent-we know the other party is quite good at that. No one can show the Republican Party how to rally the netroots to the side of Republicans better than a controversial and well-read blogger.

As for the RNC: We support you when you ask it of us us. We'd appreciate it if you'd mind your business and stay out of the internal affairs of our State organization.

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