Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Briley Says We're to Blame for His Departure

Rep. Rob Briley has given his farewell speech on the House floor in Nashville, in which he blasted the bloggers who helped bring him down (of which this weblog was but one of many):

"And to those who write on the Internet — those things I believe they call 'blogs' — just because you say it, doesn't make it true," he said.

I guess Briley's arrest for drunk driving and destruction of police property was untrue. I suppose his obvious affair with the lobbyist for the Tennessee Trial Lawyer's Association, and the obvious conflicts of interest involved with that (as well as in crafting DUI legislation after being arrested in violent fashion for a DUI) were also things that were patently false.

Rob Briley did make a public admission of his alcohol problem before the House-an act of great courage on its face. However, Briley (and all elected leaders) must be prepared to answer for their actions and to pay politically when it is clear that they have done things which violate the public trust-and what Briley did clearly violates that trust, even if it does not violate his oath of office. Christ told us that he who has not sinned should cast the first stone, so I won't cast stones at Briley-but I will say that to deal with his life problems, he must take an attitude of responsibility for them. Instead, as The Tennessean reports today, Briley would like to restrict public access to the Legislature:

He then issued a warning to the media that if they could not handle the responsibility of reporting on the state's public records, they would lose access to that information.

Briley is hardly in a position to tell the rest of us that we ought not be able to access the doings of the General Assembly. His tirade sounded something akin to "I got nailed because of public access, otherwise I wouldn't be in this position, so because I got caught, the people who nailed me to the wall for my actions are the irresponsible ones."

The sad part hidden in Briley's remarks is the reality that many others would like to limit our access to the Legislature for the very reasons that Briley openly admitted-but they would never say so publicly. The continuing lesson is that if you don't want to get caught doing things that will force you out of public office, you might try not doing the things that would get you forced out of office.



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