Roy Exum: The Carefully-Planned Snub

Friday, August 2, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Early Tuesday morning, some hours before President Barack Obama would visit Chattanooga, that day’s editions of the Knoxville News-Sentinel hit the streets and a prominent story written by veteran political writer Tom Humphrey carried the headline, “Tenn. GOP ready to roll out the unwelcome mat for visiting Obama.”

Oh Silly me. I thought that Chuck Fleishmann’s cheesy postcard inviting our President to visit an underground cavern while he was here was the embarrassing act of one small-minded Congressman but as I noticed our Governor, our Senators and other area Representatives were conspicuously absent, it showed there was a concerted effort by the Grand Ole Party to deliberately snub the leader of our land.

Much like Congress, the Republican rudeness didn’t work well at all and, as of yesterday at noon, the “most commented” story in the Knoxville newspaper all week had well over 450 readers who took the time and trouble to angrily respond to our elected politicians’ flagrant lack of class. Mind you, this was in Knoxville! The tone in Chattanooga itself lambasted the sheer idiocy of the snub; any fool could see that for the Republican Party not to be represented in such a joyous and uplifted occasion was akin to shooting one’s self in the foot.

Humphrey’s article deftly explained what was going to happen and even disclosed the “Tennessee Republican Party (was) airing a television ad declaring that Tennessee is a success ‘not because of your liberal policies, but in spite of them.’”

That’s right, the state GOP actually bought television time to caustically proclaim, “We’re fourth in job creation, top five for business and third freest state in the country, thanks to Republican leadership,” said the voice-over. “We’re a right-to-work state relying on the hard work of individuals, not unions. Unlike Washington, we’ve got the lowest debt of any state in the nation. Maybe you can learn a thing or two while you’re here, Mr. President.”

Chris Devaney said in a statement to the News-Sentinel that the ad “isn’t about President Obama or his feckless leadership on jobs and the economy — everyone is well aware of that dismal record. Instead, this ad is about the great things happening here in Tennessee because of Republican leadership.”

Oh please. If that makes you swell up with pride then you already understand why it seems nobody speaks to one another in Washington anymore. Whatever happened to statesmanship, where men of different views could politely and kindly discuss their differences, find a compromise, and do what is right for every citizen? I think of Tip O’Neill, and Sam Rayburn, both liberal Democrats who were admired and respected by their Republican friends.

That’s right, friends who agreed to disagree but still maintained friendship and decency towards one another. I have talked to enough politicians to know that deep friendship once developed between the parties but now we are reduced to the antics of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid or John Boehner and Eric Cantor. I read about guys like Harry Truman and John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan and what made them great leaders is that they listened to the opposite voices. Mercy, Abraham Lincoln actually filled his staff with men who thought the opposite.

One comment in the Knoxville newspaper read, “These old white guys (and the few women groupies they are able to attract) are an embarrassment to our state and to our nation. Our once great country has become a laughing stock to the world, a third world nation in its politics, because of these idiots. They should be demanding that the Congress get off its duff and get to work to improving our country, not just defeating our elected president at the expense of everything else.”

Another shouted, “The President of the United States is coming to Tennessee, and GOP officials are going out of their way to present him an with an ‘unwelcome.’ This is the most embarrassing act I have ever witnessed by Tennessee officials of either party. This arrogant, small minded self-centeredness is what got the GOP's a**ses kicked in the last election. Those who demonstrate obstructionism and a lack of cooperation to join with the other party to solve the nation's problems should be voted out of office at the earliest opportunity.”

Other notable comments included:

-- “Come on out and help un-welcome President Obummer. We don't want to lose our bragging rights as being one of the more red-necked, uneducated and uncouth places in the country.”

-- “If the Republicans of TN cared about the people of TN, they would act like Chris Christie of New Jersey when Obama visited. They would be grateful for the attention being paid to our state and touting our positive points, rather than using this as an opportunity for partisan politics. Politicians just don't get it: we are fed up with the whole lot of you.”

-- “Is (Obama) back to display his laser like focus on jobs? It's been five years, and his laser wouldn't warm a cup of left-over coffee. Maybe he should take a trip into the black side of Chattanooga to look at the unemployment: Nearly half of black males ages 16 to 64 in Alton Park -- 47.8 percent -- are unemployed, while 33 percent in East Chattanooga are without jobs.”

-- “Tennessee Republican Party officials in summary: No brains, no consciences, no manners, no class.”

-- “I am not a democrat. Let me state that up front. That said, I am just amazed at the glaring ‘blind spot’ that our Tea Party countrymen have as it relates to attitude, perception and p.r.? In other words, why can they not see that their strident tone and constant doom-and-gloom scenarios do not attract potential believers to their message. As an earlier poster said, "Show some class." Decorum, grace and dignity are both appropriate and right. Barack Obama is The President of the United States Of America. In three and a half years he won't be. Maybe the next president will be the person you support, in which case the same respect will be due him or her from all citizens, simply because of the nature of the office itself. The New Testament actually addresses this issue. Be classy, and do not let your passion devolve into an all-consuming anger, for such will only serve to undermine your message, rob you of personal joy and peace, and contaminate The Republic.”

My sentiments exactly.

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