Roy Exum: Manny Is Best For All

Thursday, February 27, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I am not a big fan of Bill Hagerty, the early front-runner to replace Lamar Alexander as Tennessee’s next Senator, because I dislike the thought of six more years with a partisan puppet. Hagerty was in Chattanooga earlier this week to tell the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club how loyal he is to President Donald Trump, how much he enjoys laughing at the Democrats’ presidential field yet in every account I read, Hagerty has offered no clue of what voting for him would benefit Tennessee.

I don’t want a Trump Senator, I want a Tennessee Senator. I don’t want a Republican puppet who will sacrifice his thought process on behalf of his GOP handlers. Hagerty left no doubt he would stand with Trump, when the voters of this state want a Senator who will stand with us. Marsha Blackburn, our other Senator, is already answering to the heckle of “Moscow Marsha.” But Hagerty’s biggest mistake was to call Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg “Mini-Mike,” this due to the fact the third-richest man in the world stands 5-foot-8.

When you are a critic, there are some honorable and tight boundaries. One should never criticize a candidate’s family; they are not running for office and, in due respect, should never be criticized for another’s actions. If Bloomberg’s height is an affront to anyone, take that up with God – Bloomberg had nothing to do with how tall he’s become. If you fault somebody for something beyond their control, you are not only a poor writer but a rube as well. If you foolishly taunt Bloomberg because it was Trump who first offered the moniker to initiate the smear, be careful how you follow him because if the President were to take a sharp change-of-direction while walking, following too close can snap your neck.

I’m on record in endorsing Manny Sethi, a Vanderbilt trauma surgeon who last year came in on his off day to tend to me when I was in a tight with infections. Manny’s folks are from India and came to rural Middle Tennessee when other doctors would not. They were a Godsend to the communities around Manchester and were soon beloved. Why? Because they would come to help and heal 365 days a year. Again, Manny came on his off day.

In a talk not long ago, he mentioned no Democrats while praising the President for acting quickly with emergency funding for the coronavirus. Had you rather hear an expedient plan for COVID-19 or giggle over “Mini-Mike?”   

Sethi was quick with his diagnosis: “We have a massive international crisis brewing, and need something as bold and ambitious as a Manhattan Project-style effort to combat it. I appreciate President Trump’s stand to defend Americans from this contagion. Congress must act quickly and give him what he has asked for, without politicizing the issue by adding extraneous requests to the emergency funding bill that have nothing to do with the coronavirus.

“We must stop listening to the Wall Street elites, who are more worried about not spooking the markets and their pocketbooks, than they are about protecting Americans. And we must start listening to the doctors and researchers who have been sounding the alarm on this. Let’s direct every resource available at developing an accurate, reliable screening test capable of identifying virus victims quickly, and stopping them from unknowingly spreading the virus,” Sethi continued.

“Time is not on our side – we need thousands of researchers working on this around-the-clock, which means Congress must give the President the funding he needs to fight this crisis,” the physician who is a proven veteran in a crisis added. “It is my sincere hope and prayer that this crisis ends being less terrifying than it looks right now. But hope isn’t a strategy – we need our leaders to take every step we can to protect Americans and be prepared.”

This is the Senator Tennessee needs. He’s in it for us, and the fact Sethi is not a puppet is how to hold Trump accountable in his second term. The view today – according to Las Vegas oddsmakers – is that the Democratic Party is out of control. They are racing around like headless chickens, a ship with no rudder. Further, a Socialist president will not get elected in the United States, I can guarantee it, and if the other Dem candidates are all lagging behind so badly they can’t catch Bernie, there you have the 2020 election.

The Democratic candidates for Senator in Tennessee are even worse. So if I were a progressive Democrat faced without a winning horse, I would defy Trump by voting in the Republican primary and picking Sethi -- who is going to need votes not in lockstep with the state GOP in order to represent all Tennesseans instead of an avowed Trump Senator who doesn’t give those in this state a passing glance. Sethi has bearing in the Republican Party but he swears he will never be a party loyalist. Instead he will use his own thoughts, virtues, and character to work for all Tennesseans.

Sethi is the only way a Democrat in Tennessee will ever be heard versus a Republican who says he’ll side with Trump on every issue. It’s a no-brainer. You want a Trump Senator or a Tennessee Senator?

* * *


Manny is a Harvard-trained trauma surgeon and obviously he’s given the COVID-19 epidemic some serious thought. If he were already a Tennessee Senator, here are eight steps he would insist for the Volunteer State:

* -- No forced resettlement. Protect states from forced resettlement of coronavirus patients by the federal government. Any quarantine of coronavirus patients in any state must be approved by local and state officials, and the federal government must coordinate with the community surrounding a quarantine site.

* -- Emergency funding to get thousands of researchers working on testing of an accurate PCR-based screening test for rapid diagnosis. The current diagnostic test has been validated at only a handful of public health laboratories and its accuracy is problematic at best. An accurate diagnostic test, available to state and local public health labs, is imperative, as well as coordination between all hospitals and the closest public health lab.

* -- Ensure coordination between the Center for Disease Control and state and local health facilities to assure a clear and transparent reporting system which can provide a timely basis for quarantine decisions.

* -- Emergency funding to bolster and hasten the development and testing of an effective and safe vaccine.

* -- Increase surveillance and border security to ensure persons who are either (a) potentially exposed and at risk of infection or (b) potentially already infected are appropriately evaluated and triaged.

* -- National preparation within hospitals to create sufficient capacity in case the needs arises for hospital admission. Current estimates are that approximately 80% of COVID-19 patients have mild disease; of the approximately 20% with more severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization, approximately 5% require intensive care.

* -- International collaboration among clinicians knowledgeable on COVID-19 to determine the most effective treatments, including controlled clinical trials of anti-virals.

* -- Development of an accurate antibody test to assist in the assessment of vaccine immunogenicity as well as to provide essential seroepidemiologic data including the role of asymptomatic cases in transmission of the virus.

* * *


“In Tennessee, Bill Hagerty, 60, is running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Lamar Alexander. Hagerty held a senior position on Trump’s presidential transition and helped U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer negotiate the new farmer-friendly trade deal with Japan after Trump-appointed Hagerty ambassador. Trump actually beat Hagerty in announcing his own campaign, which the president did without warning via Twitter. 

“While Tennessee consistently votes Republican in presidential and Senate races, Hagerty represents a change from more passive figures like Alexander and Bob Corker, who left the Senate last year and was often critical of Trump. Hagerty has made clear he will be an activist senator, joining the state’s other senator, Marsha Blackburn, in actively promoting the Trump agenda.”

* * *

I’ll vote for a Tennessee Senator over a Trump-controlled insider bureaucrat every time.  As one reader put it, “We will never drain the swamp in DC if we keep supporting swamp creatures for office.”

Manny Sethi
Manny Sethi

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