Monday, February 19, 2007


2007 Jefferson County Lincoln Day

My intention was to post at length about the 2007 Jefferson County Lincoln Day Dinner, but it seems that my friend David Oatney (of Honey Bunches of Oatney fame) has already done so. Given that I agree with nearly everything that David said, I will only add a few nuggets from my personal observations of Saturday night's affair.

First off, I want to thank Mike Faulk, the Mountain 'publican, for putting together our conservative blogger table. Mike, Dave Oatney, Terry Frank, Stacey Campfield, and myself - it doesn't get much more conservative than that! (I guess it would have been if Vance Cheek - the Conservatore from Pensieri - had been able to attend, but a family obligation prevented that from happening.)

Secondly, I am a big fan of Lincoln Day Dinners. I am an even bigger fan of attending them during non-election years. You can really see who is jockeying for position amongst the party faithful. And I guess that was what struck me about the Jefferson County event. There wasn't much politicking from what I could tell. As I pointed out to David Oatney as the program started, Van Hilleary was present. Van wasn't working the room, but it was odd just to see him there. Jefferson County is split between the 1st and the 3rd Districts, which are both safely in the hands of GOP incumbents. In any case, I wasn't able to talk to Van (he and Meredith were safely out the door before the end of the program, as per norm), so I couldn't find out more.

With the exception of Mike Faulk, I didn't see anyone working the room. This brings me to another point - Mike Faulk can work a room. I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful GOP politicians. Some could work a room magically. Others did so as a matter of having to. (I would probably put myself more into the latter category, if I was forced to do so.) Mike is amongst the best I have ever seen at doing so, and he does it without the appearance of doing so.

Now I am going to go out on a limb here - Mike Faulk could be a serious GOP contender for whichever office he chooses. Yes, I know we all have him penciled in to destroy Senator Mike Williams (who was not in attendance in a county that he represents in the State Senate) in 2008. I also know that Mike Faulk is not a declared candidate for that seat. He still has to decide if he wants to run.

(An aside: What a lot of people have to recognize is that it is very difficult for a lawyer who owns his own firm to step away from that firm and into politics. Lawyers have duties to their clients, and it is not like closing a roofing business or even going part-time as an attorney. This is why it is tough for attorneys to just jump into a candidacy for public office.)

In the words of Michael Jackson, I don't wanna be startin' something. However, I have seen Mike Faulk throughout this state over the past few months. If he felt the calling and committed to it, he could be a conservative force in GOP politics on a statewide level. I'm not saying that Mike even wants to be that, but I am saying that it could happen that way.

Here is Mike Faulk with Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. Ron, who is a Sullivan County boy like myself - he from Blountville and Sullivan Central, myself from just down the road in Bluff City and Sullivan East, seems to think that Mike is ready to run against Williams. We shall see.

I thought Ron gave a decent address in Jefferson County. He is tying himself to a saying that one of his old constituents used to tell him - to "stay close to your overalls." I agree with that. People who I like - both in politics and in life - are those that never let title, degrees, or (especially) money change who they are. Jefferson and Knox County has one guy who certainly is the spitting image of that phrase - Representative Frank Nicely. I am lucky enough to bump into Frank often in South Knox, which is part of his sprawling district. Frank would rather talk farming than politics. It's no wonder that he won reelection by a landslide. He doesn't have to be something that he's not, because the person that he is makes people want to vote for him.

Congressman David Davis gave the keynote address. Most pundits I talked to were not that impressed, but, as I told them, I thought that David gave one of his better speeches on Saturday night. David is not going to "wow" you like a Ronald Reagan, J.C. Watts, or Alan Keyes. He's more Sam Brownback than Mitt Romney. David brings stats to the table. If you are looking to be inspired, then you need to look elsewhere.

Overall, I thought David delivered a nice speech. He hit on the importance of wresting away control of the Tennessee House from Jimmy Naifeh, as this was the only way to achieve open government. He spoke of the votes that Speaker Pelosi has already pushed through the House that eliminate open government by making committee votes exempt from recordkeeping and that remove the need for a supermajority before tax increases could be approved (as it was with the GOP-led Congress). David spoke of his committee assignments, of which he has three, and the need for a balanced budget amendment (which has about as much chance of passing in this Congress as does making the NRA exempt from all taxes and FEC regulations). David spoke at length about Iraq, an issue which, it seemed by the reactions, was polarized in this particular room. For me, it was a decent speech. For the average attendee in Jefferson County, it probably didn't, but I'm just speculating there.

It was good to meet up with David Oatney and to finally meet his wife Nicole at the Dinner. David was actually able to explain to me what a "paleoconservative" is, an area that A.C. Kleinheider has failed in the past. (From David's explanation, A.C. might have had trouble with the definition because he might not be one.) Dave, Stacey, Terry, and I also brought up a few other bloggers in conversation, including the filthy writings of Aunt B, the liberal leanings of Roger Abramson, and Bob Krumm, who is becoming tough to pin down since he decided to become a candidate for public office.

In any case, a good time was had by all. Terry let us know that she is going to have her own 3-hour radio show. (Yes, I hope that I get invited to take part some day - maybe with Oatney?) Congressman Davis' staff was very cordial and answered several questions from members of our merry band of bloggers. Given the snow on the roads, I was pleasantly surprised at the crowd. (Heck, Knox County cancelled their Lincoln Day last year at the forecast of snow. It actually came down hard in Jefferson and Hamblen Counties, yet everyone seemed to make it there and back just fine.)

Finally, as a true aside, the VOLConWife and I had business in Hamblen County that wrapped up early, so we killed a few hours there. One thing was blatantly apparent - there is a serious immigration issue that can be found in Morristown. I haven't heard that much Spanish being spoken in a mall since I lived in Florida as a child. It's a shame that our do-nothing Governor thinks this issue doesn't deserve strong action.

UPDATE: OK, I called Phil Bredesen a do-nothing Governor. After further review, I should have been more accurate and called him a do-nothing-but-strive-to-raise-your-taxes Governor. My apologies for the correction.

Also, upon further review, this post is long. I said it would be short, but I guess I was wrong on that, too.


That shot of Ron Ramsey and Mike, was that where I was talking to Ramsey?

I had a ball at the dinner with you and Angela (and Stacey and Terry and Mike), and on the way home Nicole was telling me how much she enjoyed herself.

We should get together more often.
Thanks for reminding me of the snow cancellation. I had started to forget the rain cancellation. Thanks to you. I am reminded.
You, sir, are too kind. Thank you for such generous remarks.
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