March 05, 2009

Tennessee = Lebanon

I returned to Tennessee from Lebanon at the beginning of December and thought I was ... back in Lebanon. My congressman, Zach Wamp (McCallie '76), had plastered pictures of his face all over the state like it was Zghorta or someplace. He wasn't even running for anything (yet). The pictures just said "Zach Wamp: Strong Leadership for Tennessee." I asked my mother if Tennessee had become a banana republic since I was gone and if Zach Wamp was now the Dear Leader. No, she said. "He just wants to be the next governor but can't say anything just yet."

Well, now he is officially running for governor (to replace the widely popular and competent centrist Phil Bredesen), which means he feels a need to get on the national teevee whenever possible. The results are ... well, hilarious. Watch this video. My favorite part of this is around the 2:40 mark when he says that health care is a privilege and not a right. (The news reader just owns him.) My second favorite part is when he starts talking about them Mexicans, a peace-loving people with whom the State of Tennessee has been inexplicably locked in a blood feud since 1846. (Tennessean James K. Polk asked for 2,800 Tennesseans to go fight in Mexico. We sent, like, half the state -- 30,000 -- largely because our single men had nothing better to do. Hence, the "Volunteer State." Don't even get me started on how many Tennesseans won Texas its independence a decade earlier.) Folks, this guy is going to win in a landslide.

Update: Good arguments can be made for a more limited form of government, and I am more sympathetic than you suspect toward those arguments. But I just have a tough time reconciling the fact that -- in a nation of so many professing Christians -- we allow so many people to live without health care and simply don't give a ****. I don't claim to know the nature of God, but I suspect we might have a tough time explaining how we as a "Christian" nation could have let so many of our underprivileged slip through the cracks. On an unrelated note, one of the readers noted Zach Wamp does not have a college degree. This is true. He dropped out of the University of North Carolina and struggled with a horrible addiction to cocaine in his early twenties. But I have always thought his recovery from that addiction was one of his more endearing qualities. (Although had he not hailed from such a well-off family he might not have received the treatment he needed...)