Friday, January 19, 2007

Kurita's Liebership

This past week I have been asked many times why I voted for a new Lt. Governor.How could I vote for someone who is not a member of my own political party? The answer is very straightforward: I voted my conscience.

That's the introduction to an email that ended up in my inbox from Pamela George, Executive Secretary to State Senator Rosalind Kurita. It's been repeated and reposted enough times that I don't really feel like I'm shortchanging anyone by not posting it in its entirety, giving Kurita yet another place to say "Them that brung me to this particular dance would do well to grab their ankles right about... now."

First, her "reasoning" is ludicrous. More from her email: "The most basic tenet of democracy is that the majority rules. In the Tennessee state Senate, Republicans have held the numerical majority for three years. Yet, we were in a "peculiar" situation where the minority continued to keep the majority in the form of the Lt. Governor. That is not our democracy."

As AC Kleinheider pointed out, if that was the case... Then wouldn't she be helping the Republican majority out on every vote? And since when is it incumbent upon a state senator elected as a Democrat to help level the playing field for Republicans? Does Alex Rodriguez feel the need to help out the other team because the Yankees' enormous payroll puts them at an unfair advantage (Okay, given A-Rod's record last year, that could be a bad example)?

If Wilder was so incompetent/corrupt/whatever negative description you want to apply to him, wouldn't the proper time to have voted against him be the caucus? She couldn't be bothered to do that--- In caucus, she voted for Wilder. Earlier in the day, she voted again for the Democratic senators to stand as one behind Wilder--- And then cast the crucial vote for Ron Ramsey. And what of Ramsey?

What about the man calling the dances on this legislative landscape that Kurita and her conscience helped to create? "We'll have a little more of a pro-business agenda. I'll make sure the Commerce Committee leans toward the business side. Things like tort reform that we've sought will be brought to the floor. "

First, it would be difficult for the law in Tennessee to carry "a little more of a pro-business agenda". We are already a state where just cause for termination sounds like some crazy liberal ideal. There's not much to Tennesee Employment Law, and what little there is can be subverted by the current system of "at will" employment. "No, I didn't fire him because he's black/Hispanic/gay--- But I don't have to list an official reason".

And what happens to someone that IS terminated unjustly? Well, that's where the second part of his statement comes into play: "Things like tort reform that we've sought will be brought to the floor". Tort reform--- The Republican stealth campaign to destroy the rights of the working class. Wrongfully terminated? Too bad--- Tort reform will restrict your rights to legal recourse. Hurt in the workplace? Welcome to the wonderful world of Republican-imposed damage caps. And no one is isolated from having to pay the high cost of tort reform--- Even if your job is "safe", you will, through your taxes, absorb the cost. After all, what happens to the employee who's injured too badly to work again? Rather than his medical costs being absorbed by the employer that provided the unsafe working environment, the tab will be picked up by you and me.

Sexually harrassed in the workplace? Too bad. Tort reform. Women's groups would do well to remember this the next time Kurita comes around begging for money.

These are the priorities of the man that Kurita handed the Senate over to. Well, that and maintaining a Tom DeLay-style money laundering operation. This is the product of Rosalind Kurita's "conscience".

Politics is not merely a numbers game, with two sides jockeying for position. It's about policy--- Something that affects the lives of every person in this state--- Something Kurita would do well to consider before her next attack of "conscience".

Inevitably, Rosalind Kurita will want to run for a bigger office. She's already run for the US Senate, and by virtue of her not being Harold Ford, people felt the need to treat her like she was some liberal savior--- Despite her voting with Republicans as often as Ford did. Denial runs deep in some corners. During her campaign, I had a gay man tell me that she told him she was "on his side" of the gay marriage issue despite having voted against it. I had a good friend of mine tell me just the other day that she was preferable to Harold Ford simply by virtue of not having voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In both cases, someone who justifiably hated the voting record of Harold Ford had decided that anyone who ran against him must be his polar opposite in some way. It's a fundamental mistake--- Incorrectly assuming that the enemy of your enemy is somehow your friend. But it's just as incorrect when progressives believe that about Rosalind Kurita and Harold Ford as it was when the president assumed that Islamic religious fanatics would bury the hatchet with a dictator that killed Islamic extremists in his own nation long enough to swap WMD recipes.

So for anyone that still has a leaning towards being a Kurita apologist, I have a short and simple exercise for you. Repeat after me:

"The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.
The enemy of my enemy is not my friend."

This isn't the Nicean Creed. Don't just say the words. Think about what they mean. We've heard the phrase "voting my conscience" before. Joe Lieberman uses his own conscience as an excuse every time he gives the president "bipartisan" cover fire. So did Harold Ford.

And Rosalind Kurita might well be made Speaker Pro Tem in exchange for bringing her own unique brand of "Liebership" to the Tennessee State Senate.


Eleanor A said...

Shouldn't you save some spleen for Doug Wilder and Governor Bredesen, under whose leadership the state Senate went to Republican control?

I sincerely don't understand the outrage. Ramsey should have had this job in 2004. Kurita has been treated like dirt by the state Dem Party - passed over for Senate leadership and treated as though she were invisible by the state Party apparatus during her run for Senate.

I sincerely suspect if she were a man we would be reading articles about her "maverick daring," not disloyalty to a Party that increasingly doesn't stand for anything anyway (Tennesseans pay 10% sales tax on food; hundreds of thousands are denied access to health care; the official Senate candidate demonizes gays; all this happens under Democratic watch, etc.)

Freedonian said...

While I'm touched by your concern (Not to mention the staggering depths of your denial), Eleanor, you never need to be concerned that I'll run out of spleen. Plenty more where it came from. The supply is inexhaustible.

I sincerely don't understand the outrage. Ramsey should have had this job in 2004.

There are people in the Senate whose job it is to make sure Republicans get their due when they have a majority. They're called "Republicans". Every election day, is she the beneficiary of a Republican GOTV effort? Probably not.

Kurita has been treated like dirt by the state Dem Party - passed over for Senate leadership and treated as though she were invisible by the state Party apparatus during her run for Senate.

Bullshit. First off, she's proven right all those that passed her over for other Liebership opportunities. Let's pretend for a moment that you're in charge of committee assignments. How many do you dole out to senators that have a proven track record of voting with the other guys?

Judging by the tone of what you've written here, I think it's fairly safe to assume that you're one of the legions of people that decided she was some kind of liberal alternative to Harold Ford without ever bothering to look beyond the voluminous torrent of pandering she did to the left. Had you done so, you would have found that collar and cuff did not match. While she was telling liberal audiences she opposed the war, she was answering questions about it from more centrists audiences by claiming she didn't have an opinion on it yet. Interesting, huh? We managed to be at war for three years without her having formed an opinion on it--- Impressive.

And as far as her being treated like she was invisible-- She WAS invisible. There was a frontrunner that everyone got behind early on. Nature of the game. Is it the party's responsibility to pump enough money into her campaign to make her a contender? If there was a discernible difference between them (Such as her having some kind of loyalty towards Democratic ideals in a non-election year), perhaps, but not in this case.

And funny you should bring up "demonizing gays". Kurita had a different strategy with them--- She told them she was in favor of gay marriage. Now, if you think back to the TN Senate vote regarding amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, only three voted against it. Steve Cohen, John Ford, and... One other whose name I don't recall. But it wasn't Rosalind Kurita. So we had two not-so-different candidates--- The only difference is that since Ford demonized them, and Kurita pretended to care what they wanted.

Interestingly enough, some of her gay supporters tried to defend her vote on that. They told me what she told them--- That she didn't know what she was voting on. Considering it was called something to the effect of "A Bill to Amend the Tennessee Constitution to Ban Gay Marriage", I'm thinking it shouldn't have been that hard to read between the lines.

That's what's called "pandering".

I sincerely suspect if she were a man we would be reading articles about her "maverick daring," not disloyalty to a Party that increasingly doesn't stand for anything anyway

"party that increasingly doesn't stand for anything anyway..." Interesting choice of words. It is made so by Democrats that help the Republicans pass their agenda. She's part of the problem there--- Not the solution. Had you bothered to look into her record before deciding she was some kind of liberal that was going to save us all from the Republican votes of Harold Ford, you would have known that a year ago when I did.

As far as sexism goes--- I guess when all you've got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. If you notice the application of the "maverick" label, you'll find that there are only narrow uses of it. It's generally applied only to Republicans that vote with us--- John McCain, et al. I doubt you'll even find too many occasions where it was used for Lieberman or Ford.

When a Republican votes with Democrats, they are "mavericks"--- Be it McCain, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chafee, etc. When a Democrat votes with Republicans, they are... Voting their conscience. Just like Kurita. The difference in labelling is a consequence of the media's shift to the right--- A Republican voting with us is a rebel, but a Democrat voting with the Republicans is "doing the right thing".

The problems you named off in this state are certainly real enough--- Looking through my archives will reveal that I'm certainly no fan of Bredesen, and I don't give a damn for Wilder.

I care a great deal about the legislative agenda of our new Republican Lt. Governor and his sidekick, Rosalind Kurita. And over the last two weeks, they have been the problem--- Not Bredesen. Bredesen's not the one pushing tort reform, or appointing people that haven't even finished law school as chairmen of the judiciary--- That's Ramsey.

Part of getting rid of the problem you named--- "the party increasingly not standing for anything"--- Is to get rid of the people that make it that way. And yes, that means Rosalind Kurita, among others.