Rex: Taking on wishy-washy gubernatorial candidates

Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 10:45pm

Who you calling squishy?

One of the candidates in the race to succeed Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen next year is doing some serious bad-mouthing.

GOP Congressman Zach Wamp was down Memphis way last week, and perhaps to show his allegiance to the NRA, wound up taking shots at everybody. He told The Memphis Flyer that he wasn't sure how long Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons or Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey would stay in the gubernatorial race.

“Wamp…vowed to stay in ‘whether Ramsey stays in and whether Gibbons stays in’ or whether the GOP primary is ‘a two-man race, a three-man race, or a four-man race,’ ” the Flyer wrote.

Translation: "I think I'm kicking your butt, so you might as well quit."

Wamp then played the populist and called the door-to-door campaigning of Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, his chief Republican primary challenger, a "Tom Ingram stunt. It's trying to make a rich guy look like a regular person." As if taking a final kill shot, Wamp also characterized Haslam as an "empty suit."

All of which led to one curious statement to the Flyer in which Wamp parroted, almost verbatim, the values of the conservative Web site Red State, which recently endorsed him: “The last thing we need is any more squishy moderates in the state of Tennessee,” he said.

The Red State piece Wamp was mirroring bad-mouthed the work of widely beloved former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker — who at one point also served as President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff — and current Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. All of them are moderate Republicans, and they are three of the most popular elected officials ever to hold office in the Volunteer State.

“Howard Baker was conservative, but in a ‘compromise his mother to advance his goal’ sort of way,” Red State wrote in its grammatically challenged piece titled, “A Rocky Top for Conservatives in Tennessee.”

Red State continued, “Arguably, Lamar Alexander is even worse, refusing to do anything that does not advance bipartisanship.” And Bob Corker apparently has the temerity, according to Red State, to “compromise on big and small issues.”

Oh, the humanity. Rex thinks Wamp won’t soon be getting dinner invitations from these "squishy moderates.”

Will Hollywood say, "call me"?

Rex was recently thumbing through his copy of the Hollywood Reporter and stumbled upon the news that Harold Ford Jr. was up for the job as head of the Motion Picture Association of America.

For the last five years, former Kansas congressman and agriculture secretary Dan Glickman has held the post, and for nearly 40 years before that, Jack Valenti was the organization’s chairman. Needless to say, it is one of more plum lobbying gigs in the land.

Ford, who was attacked during his U.S. Senate campaign for having Hollywood connections, is said to be lobbying the movie studio chiefs who control who winds up in the job. Rex asked one Ford insider about the former congressman/current media darling’s chances, and he said, "He told me he wasn't interested, which to me meant he really wants it."

The chiefs at Walt Disney, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers control what happens in the next scene.

Other possible contenders for the gig include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Universal Music lobbyist Matt Gerson, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Disney’s Richard Bates, MPAA COO Bob Pisano and MPAA federal affairs chief Michael O'Leary.

There is no word about whether Ford will try to sway the vote with a reception at the Playboy Mansion.

A taxing situation

Like most everyone else, Rex is mesmerized by the dramatic displays and booming noise of fireworks.

But he wants there to be a genuine cause for celebration — Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, a Titans victory, maybe even the absence of a line at the Pancake Pantry. (That last one, incidentally, seems more likely than a football win.)

There was in fact such a sky-filled display downtown recently, and it had a whole side of town wondering what was going on. Why on earth would there be such merrymaking on a random Wednesday night? Church night, no less.

Rex wasn't the only one perplexed at the more than 10 minutes of booming. On the East Nashville Listserv, a thread titled "Anybody else sick of the loud music in Edgefield?" was met with comments like, "I was just thinking the same friggin' thing! What's going on? Is there some kind of concert at LP field?"

Apparently, dogs were barking, babies were crying, and the noise could be heard in Inglewood.

It turns out that the loud music and pyrotechnics were for a private Riverfront event for H&R Block, the tax people.

“You got people” alright. Really annoyed people.

2 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 11/2/09 at 7:39

So Rex is in the undecided catagory on Wamp for Governor? I'm waiting on the road builder coalition to
decide on their candidate and then voting the opposite!

By: Time for Truth on 11/2/09 at 10:18

I imagine the road-builders' endorsement could be sniffed out fairly easily. My guess is it will be between Ramsey and McWherter. Daddy Ned Ray was a fave of theirs and Ramsey is an entrenched pol. In 2002, Van Hilleary was a 'no-brainer' pick for them in more ways than one as they filled his empty head with promises he had to keep.

Wamp is too much of a talker and not enough of a doer to get my vote. And his talk is mostly nonsense. At least Fitzpatrick is sincere and honest in his nuttiness. Ramsey is an old pol and also talks the requisite red-meat 'Red State' nonsense so that leaves me with Haslam.

On the Dem side the candidates have been so bland and so quiet, it's hard to know they're even there. Saving their money for the stretch while some of the R's make fools of themselves? Or nothing to say? Bredesen will be a hard act to follow, the only Dem in this state that could generate some excitement apparently wants to go to Hollywood.

For that job, I'm betting on Arnold.