Well at the very minimum it seems like we might get a good show out of the governor’s race.
Of course the conventional wisdom is that a brain-dead chimp could win the governor’s mansion these days as long as it was under the Republican banner. Conversely the wisdom might also suggest only a brain-dead chimp would try running on the Democratic ballot. After all, this state is about as Republican as it gets right now.
And while all that may well turn out to be true once the votes are counted it at least looks like Democratic gubernatorial candidate Parker Griffith is going to give us a buck’s worth of entertainment as he takes on incumbent Gov. Robert Bentley.
Griffith has served in the state legislature as well as Congress, so he’s no neophyte. He might be a little all over the road, as he’s held office as a Democrat, switched to the GOP and was defeated, and now has gone back to the Democratic Party. Regardless of his party history, the guy is handy with a sound bite.
In his current commercial, Griffith calls Bentley “a failed governor and a coward.” If these weren’t two really old guys I might expect some fisticuffs as a result of that kind of broadside. The coward part is because Griffith says Bentley is ducking a debate. Griffith carried a giant rubber duck to a press conference recently either to illustrate his point or urge the governor to take a bath. Not sure.
Griffith has made his attacks particularly personal, dissing Bentley’s medical specialty in dermatology in a way that could only suggest he believes it is less intellectually challenging than his own in radiation oncology.
“People need a debate. A cancer doctor and a dermatologist. I’d pay to see that,” Griffith sneers in the ad. For some reason I’m reminded of the “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry calls a female dermatologist “pimple-popper MD.”
To me it seems like Griffith has fallen into that old trap of assuming just because someone is a doctor they’re really smart. While there are plenty of smart docs, there’s also a reason some people write “this one” on a leg that needs surgery.
Or maybe Griffith just thinks cancer doctors are better debaters because they always have to talk patients into taking radiation and chemo. I’d agree it’s far easier to get people to agree to use SPF 45.
But Parker does have a couple of hot issues to back his rhetoric — Medicaid expansion and a statewide lottery. I happen to agree with him on both, although maybe not for entirely the same reasons.
As I’ve written before I see no reason to turn down the billion dollars the feds will give us to expand Medicare. It is far, far more money in our system than we’d ever have otherwise and in my opinion it’s still better than an even bet Obamacare is going to tank and we’d be left holding the billion dollars. The feds are just going to blow it somewhere else, we might as well use it. Besides Bentley says he’s fixing the system we have with the current funding, so it just stands to reason if that’s the case he could do even better with more money.
As for giving us a chance to vote on a lottery, it’s really hard to understand the logic of not giving our horrible school systems a shot in the arm with a lottery. If the objections are on a religious basis I’d have to ask is it more Christian to have so many people uneducated and illiterate or for them to spend a few bucks on a momentary dream that has little chance of coming true? Frankly there’s enough evidence in our neighboring states to suggest a lottery could really help improve our school systems and create even more elaborate ways to cheat on standardized tests. (I’m joking, put down the ruler!)
For his part Gov. Bentley has launched a commercial blitz with a spot that would almost have you believe Alabama was a dystopian society before Dr. Governor arrived on the scene. The ad starts with a bunch of dirty, burned-out-looking factories. I’m sure those were hard to find.
Bentley’s ad claims 40,000 jobs have been created since he became governor and another 60,000 are on the way. Wow! I’m not sure that’s entirely the case, but if it is it sounds great. When will the 60,000 get here?
Bentley could use them here soon because according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Alabama is the only state in the union whose unemployment has gone up in the past year — jumping over 7 percent in July.
In his favor Bentley has Airbus, Remington and Jack Daniels to tout as economic development successes. It’s hard to argue with guns and whiskey. Airplanes are great, but what fun are they without guns and whiskey? The cancer doc is going to have to do some mighty good debating to get people to forget about two of the pillars of Southern life locating in Alabama.
Still, I’m not completely sure how solid Bentley is right now. Sure, you’d be foolish to bet against him. He has the money and he’s a Republican in Alabama. That’s like being St. Peter in Heaven — you’re in good shape.
But there is something about Bentley that reminds me of a refrigerator just humming away. Nothing exciting and you kind of forget about it after a while. The place he really might be vulnerable is in a debate with a more verbally aggressive challenger. Especially if the guy’s a cancer doctor. Yikes!
I’m not saying the race will be super tight or even kind of tight. Partisan politics and money will probably make it tough for Griffith to do anything but hang sort of close. But if all he does is gets more people to pay attention to the gubernatorial race, then it’s a win for the state. Now if they end up throwing down, the pay-per-view rights alone could help Alabama’s schools for decades.
THE GADFLY BY LAURA RASMUSSEN
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