Sunday, June 22, 2003

Bredesen Trips on Chance to be Statesman

So far I, as have a number of other Tennessee bloggers, have been impressed with Phil Bredesen's performance as Governor of Tennessee. However, I think he may have slipped up on this one:

Bredesen walked path of least resistance on 'Choose Life' tags (Tom Humphrey, Knoxville News Sentinel, 06/22/03)

"In his comments on the bill, Bredesen basically agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that the plate effectively gives government support to one side in an intense political debate."
Bredesen had the opportunity to make it clear he was vetoing legislation that did just that - implied government support to a partisan political issue. It wouldn't have mattered what the issue was, as long as it was partisan.

True, he would have angered pro-lifers, but as Humphrey correctly points out:

"[H]is refusal to veto also mildly annoyed some pro-choice people, who were perhaps placated a bit by critical comments Bredesen directed toward the bill.

Folks who base their vote solely on the abortion issue are unlikely to change their stance when Bredesen runs for re-election.

There is a segment of the electorate that does decide how to vote based on abortion - on both sides. But, for a majority of voters, that's only a part of the mix that goes into a decision. Bredesen's nonveto keeps the matter more in the background, which is surely his political preference."
What this says is the people who base their votes solely on one political issue, in this case abortion, are few and far between. Most people either vote party lines, which would or would not vote for Bredesen anyway, or consider a broad range of issues - license plate issues being fairly low on the totem pole.

No I think it's doubtful a veto of the legislation with the special emphasis on keeping the government out of political issues would've hurt Bredesen politically. If there's anything these past 10 years or more have shown us, America needs statesmen. People who are willing to ignore the political winds and speak from their hearts. They're not driven by polls, or parties, or "fatcats", or lobbyists. They're willing to recognize the chaff for what it is, and put it behind them. They're able to lead by example and inspire others to follow them.

Bredesen had the chance to take on a politically charged issue riding on an insignificant matter (specialty license plates), look it square in the eye, and make a decision based on the core of the matter. But he didn't - he decided not to decide.

No wait - he did make one important decision. He decided it wasn't politically expedient to be a statesman.

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