Cool Down On KentIn light of Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams' new unique party affiliation, I had an interesting conversation this morning with a member of the House. What made this dialogue so fascinating was that the Representative in question can in no way be termed a "Naifeh Republican," moderate Republican, liberal Republican, or even (and probably especially not) a Howard Baker Republican. Indeed, the person to which I spoke is one of the most conservative members of the General Assembly, and is someone who lives and breathes conservatism as a way of life.
This member implored me to sit back and wait to see what Kent Williams will do, and said that before declaring the Williams era a complete disaster, a "wait and see" attitude may be in order. "We now have some conservative Chairmen in place, and we really have more influence than we have ever had." The member in question also said that they expect their bills to be heard in a way that has never before occurred. "I've met with Williams directly," the person told me, "and he has made certain promises-one is that we'll get a floor vote on SJR 127 [now called HJR 061]. We can't say that he will keep his word, but so far he has appointed people like Bill Dunn and Harry Brooks to chair very important committees."
It was reiterated that yes, Williams acted as a scoundrel on January 13th, that he did not act either in the best interest of the State, his constituents, or his party. But, the honorable member pointed out, Williams is the Speaker whether we like it or not, and we don't have the best situation, but we do have a better one than before.
Those looking for a real ideological battle may soon find one at the unfortunate expense of Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry. DeBerry is apparently very gravely ill, and may soon be placed in a position where she would have to give up her position as Speaker Pro Tem according to this source. There is already a movement afoot to nominate Steve McDaniel for the position, but after the events of January 13, there is less of an appetite within the House Republican Caucus to trust anyone who stood in league with Jimmy Naifeh and took an appointment from Kent Williams so quickly after his betrayal of the Caucus.
Despite numerous political disagreements with Lois DeBerry, she certainly will be remembered in my personal prayers. I would not wish what she is going through on anyone.
As for Kent Williams, because the person who implored me to sit back and wait to see what Williams will do in the weeks ahead before passing judgment is someone whose conservative credentials are above reproach, and who I trust explicitly, I will do as they ask.
Kent Williams, show me you are as fair as you say...