THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2023
Governor Lee's proposal: As we watched last evening's Last Word, we liked the cut of his jib.
Stumbling over his description of the proposal, Lawrence asked Rep. Justin Jones (D-Tennessee) what he thought about it. At one point in his reply, Rep. Jones said this:
JONES (4/12/23): I really hope, and I believe, that the governor wants to be a good-faith partner.
There was a good deal more than that to Jones' presentation. But when we saw the young legislator say that, we liked the cut of his jib.
Three cheers for Rep. Jones! In that moment, he said he believes that the governor "wants to be a good-faith partner."
He was referring to Governor Bill Lee of the ruby-red state of Tennessee.
Lee was elected governor in 2018. He was re-elected last year.
Meanwhile, as we've asked before, who lost Tennessee? The numbers in those two elections look like this:
Tennessee gubernatorial election, 2018
Bill Lee (R): 1,336,106 (59.6%)
Karl Dean (D): 864,863 (38.6%)
Tennessee gubernatorial election, 2022
Bill Lee (R): 1,129,390 (64.9%)
Jason Martin (D): 572,818 (32.9%)
For the record, 2018 was a down year for Tennessee Republicans.
It was President Donald J. Trump's midterm election. As elsewhere, this seemed to swell overall turnout—and it knocked Republican victory margins down in several major races in the Volunteer State.
By last year, the victory margin was back up to 32 points in the governor's race. Tennessee is a bright red state.
As we noted last week, Tennessee was still electing lots of Democrats as of the 1990s. Today, the Volunteer State is ruby red. Who lost Tennessee?
We'll set that important question aside for some other day. Today, Bill Lee is governor of a bright red state—and we liked the cut of Rep. Jones' jib when he seemed to come to terms with that unmistakable fact.
For the record, Governor Lee is a pol our blue tribe might not be inclined to admire.
Lee has signed a bunch of bills which blue tribe members would surely oppose. At this site, we admired Rep. Jones when he found it within his power to say that he hopes, and truly believes, that Governor Lee is sincere about this:
COCHRANE (4/13/23): As protesters continue to pressure the legislature to move to tighten access to guns in the state, Republican lawmakers have largely focused on legislation that would pour millions of dollars into security at both public and private schools. But on Tuesday, Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, announced he would sign an executive order tightening background checks for buying guns in the state and speeding up the process of reviewing criminal histories and mental health information from the courts.
Mr. Lee also called on the legislature to draft and pass what he described as “an order of protection law” that would ensure that people found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others would not have access to guns. He repeatedly declined to refer to the measure as a red flag law, a term some conservatives have resisted both on the state and the national level, instead describing it as “a law that I think is appropriate for our state today.”
He has been open about the personal impact of the attack at the Covenant School: His wife, Maria, was close friends with Cindy Peak, one of the staff members killed, and the two women were set to have dinner the night of the shooting.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, a Republican, has also expressed support for a red flag law after the Covenant School shooting...
So reports Emily Cochrane in this morning's New York Times. As he spoke with Lawrence last night, Rep. Jones said these proposals aren't enough. But he was also willing to say that he truly believes that Gov. Lee is sincere.
Rep. Jones is only 27. The people who feed us our tribal tapioca are crafting instant mythologies about Rep. Jones, mythologies designed to please us.
"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray" that Rep. Jones will emerge as a political leader who possesses the type of wisdom which helps our flailing and floundering nation emerge from our deeply dysfunctional current state—the type of wisdom which might help us move "back out of all this now too much for us."
Needless to say, there are no such guarantees. But we liked the cut of the legislator's jib when he said what he said last night.
Like every other Democrat in his state, Rep. Jones faces a daunting reality at the present time. He holds office in a bright red state—and then too, we all face the reality given voice by Professor Cottom in yesterday's New York Times:
COTTOM (4/12/23): I keep my eyes on the South for a lot of reasons. This is my home. It is the region of this nation’s original sin. Nothing about the future of this country can be resolved unless it is first resolved here: not the climate crisis or the border or life expectancy or anything else of national importance, unless you solve it in the South and with the people of the South.
Professor Cottom basically got it right. Given the way our creaking political system works, nothing is going to be resolved unless it's at least partly resolved in the South, unless it can be solved, at least in part, with the people of that region.
Professor Cottom got it right. Over the past few nights, we're inclined to think that Lawrence possibly hasn't.
Tomorrow: Mr. Gorbachev, build up that wall! (No Divisive Remark Left Behind)