Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey...

It was early May two years ago. I was getting ready to walk out the door to visit my sick father when my friend Brad Watkins called me on my cell phone.

"Have you been hearing something about a corruption scandal involving local Democrats?" he asked. "I'm hearing they got "John Ford for taking a bribe."

I pulled up the News Channel 3 website and said "Aw shit. They got Kathryn Bowers too."

Bowers, of course, was Chairwoman of the Shelby County Democratic Party at the time, so there was a special sting to her getting busted for corruption that we wouldn't have felt had it been a lesser known player.

She was the tiny firebrand of a woman I'd met over the course of the 2004 campaign season, the chain smoking, hard drinking woman with a kind word and an amusing story for everyone.

Over the next few weeks, Tennessee Waltz dominated the local media, and even gave the city more than a few kicks in the dangly bits by broadcasting our scandal, our shame on a national scale. Fox News, in particular, loved the story of corrupt Democrats gone out of control.

I missed much of that media coverage. Right after the scandal broke, my father took a turn for the worse and passed away on May 31, 2005. I remember June 2, 2005 well--- I wanted to get back in the swing of things immediately, so I drove straight from my father's funeral to the SCDP Executive Committee meeting during which Bowers tendered her resignation.

What does my father have to do with Tennessee Waltz, or Kathryn Bowers, or anything else? Absolutely nothing, directly. And everything all at the same time.

My father was still alive when this scandal broke. And I've had twenty-five months to get used to living without him.

The last two Waltz holdouts finally pled out over the last few days, with Bowers bringing up the rear. She said the other day that her conscience led her to change her plea.

Where was that conscience twenty-six months ago? It's not like the evidence against her was any weaker then than it is today.

My friend Chris wrote an extraordinary piece waxing sentimental about her. I can understand that. I disagree, but I can understand it.

I'm one of the people that was in the trenches in 2004. I spent much of that year swinging by SCDP Headquarters at 2100 Poplar first thing in the morning, working a full day, then going back for more on the way home.

She didn't sell herself out on the cheap. She sold ME out on the cheap. She sold out Vicki Lyons, David Upton, John Freeman, Meg Siegenthaler, Pam Saavedra, Joe Weinberg, John Marek, Jim Vandiveer, and dozens upon dozens of others on the cheap. She sold out, on the cheap, everyone who turned out to help her out when she decided to shift from the House to the Senate despite their campaign fatigue. She sold out Mike Kernell, Beverly Marrero, and every other honorable lawmaker whose office space she stunk up with her corruption.

John Ford, Roscoe Dixon, Ward Crutchfield, Chris Newton, both Michael Hookses, Calvin Williams, Charles Love, William Cotton, and yes, Kathryn Bowers. You all deserve a Political Darwin Award. Your departure from the Tennesseee political genepool has made it stronger.


PeskyFly said...

I don't think we disagree a bit. My moment of sympathy was exactly that-- a moment.

The worst criminal on the planet may be sympathetic for a moment should their humanness shine through the murk of badness.

My post was one of surprise--- that I saw that humanness now. Because, previously, I've seen something of a lump.

What I think you find-- or will find-- in Katherine's case is an absence of malice used to personally justify the bad behavior: "I wasn't hurting anybody." In many ways I think that says more about our process and the culture it engenders than the human who wanted "cute shoes" to plead guilty in.

Freedonian said...

Maybe it's easier, in a weird way, for me to rid myself of the sympathy because I do know her. I've always seen the humanity, and that's precisely why I am as angry as I am. It's that I saw what she threw away.

Tom Guleff on your site compared her to Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader. Anakin got some pretty cool powers when he went all Dark Side.

Not Bowers. She was the Indian chief that sold Manhattan for $24 in beads and trinkets.