I’ve been the subject of a local blogger’s posts more times this week than I’ve been mentioned in my own newspaper. Score one for me!
My analysis on the Bob Etheridge video printed in last week’s Herald (and found online here), garnered 28 comments at sanfordherald.com, pretty good for any article on our site. My opinion — which, in short, condemned Etheridge’s actions but predicted the story would do little to sway voters … an opinion I still very much hold today — was mostly bashed by the commenters, some of whom say Etheridge should resign; others say he committed assault.
Blogger Keith Clark went a step further and took me to task at his blog, the E-Lee Dispatch, calling the video “The Beginning of the End” for the Lillington Democrat.
In his blog, post, he took excerpts from my column and responded.
So in the spirit of “I get the last word” … I will respond to his responses to my excerpts.
And away we go.
I SAID: First, Bob’s a genuinely nice guy. In my three years in Sanford, North Carolina, he’s been nothing but cordial, funny and even a bit “folksy,” whether it’s a ribbon cutting, a veterans ceremony or a political appearance. We’ve seen him calmly take heated questions in health care town halls … even answer those questions with a grin.
HE SAID: Yep, I have known him for most of his career (and all of Billy’s) , and agree with Billy on everything but “he is genuinely a nice guy.” Nope, he is a political chameleon who is one thing in his District and another in the District of Columbia. He is not capable of being genuine in either place. He lives a life above his abilities (see “Peter Principle”) and the stress is getting to him. It only took his eight years as Superintendent of Public Instruction to see the elected office be stripped of all of its powers. Finally he has earned by longevity and obedience a seat on the back row of House insiders.
MY RESPONSE: For the most part, Keith runs a conservative blog, so it’s not a shock to read his opinion on Bob Etheridge. Because of the slant, you can’t take in Clark’s opinion without adding that grain of salt. Do a simple “Etheridge” search at his site, and you’ll read Clark’s take on Etheridge’s town hall meetings, his stop at a gas station to talk gas prices, and so on, and so on. I, on the other hand, have no “sides” here and based my opinion on Etheridge from my countless meetings with him. I’ve observed him in mostly political settings, yes, but I’ve also had off-the-cuff talks with him. He’s a nice guy. I suppose he’s had his “moments” (one of them very well documented now), but you can count me as one of the many who were surprised to see it. You may say, “Oh, you’re just an Etheridge supporter” … and while, yes, we did endorse him in his previous election, that was mostly because of the poor candidate he was facing. Our endorsement was backhanded, if you go back and read it.
I SAID: Count it as an interesting one-day headline grabber on level with the Virginia senator’s “macaca moment,” . . , The “macaca” senator, Republican George Allen, lost his re-election big in 2006, months after his gaffe.
HE SAID: Sean Hannity has addressed this on two shows in a row, (see updated post) see a cut to the chase editorial cartoon from 200 newspapers (click here), and as of 5:30 a.m. this morning the Washington Post and 812 papers were still on the case. (It is on its second day in the local paper here it Sanford!)
MY RESPONSE: I suppose Keith has the right to take “one day” literally, but what I meant was this — this will be forgotten soon. It’s no longer on the 24-hour news cycle one week later, and if you Google “Bob Etheridge” today, and click results for the “Past 24 hours,” you still see his name, but more in stories about “The Week That Was.” The video is still mentioned, yes, but mostly in the terms of “looking back.” Some articles about Etheridge’s views on gun control and public instruction bring up the video as well, and I predict his name will be tied to that video anytime he’s mentioned nationally for a while now. But I said it before, and I’ll say it again … in the history of political goofs, this is nothing. Clark says polls show Ellmers has surged ahead in the polls, and that’s probably accurate … this is still fresh on voters minds. But come November, Etheridge will breeze by because his candidate has little to offer … other than a video of her own saying how Etheridge’s video would have gotten him fired if he was a teacher.
Really? That’s all she’s got? Democrats aren’t shaking.
I SAID: This video may not be enough to derail his re-election, but it is enough for voters to take a closer look at him.
HE SAID: All it will take is for voters to see him for what and who he is. And at least locally, the school board ought to ship him back that brick with his name on it to be built into the renovations at Lee Senior High School. Or at least place it on the bottom interior row of the men’s rest room!
MY RESPONSE: Wait, he sorta agreed with me here. I think.
And as for his comments that The Herald continues to “advertise” the Etheridge video to sell papers … it’s an issue that has people talking. 28 comments online, a handful of letters to the editor this week, a few more letters to be published. Of course we’re going to promote something that keeps people talking.
But I’ll say it until it’s beaten into the ground … this wont’ derail his election. The people who are bashing him are more than likely part of the 35 percent of people who vote against him every time. This video will change a few minds, yes, but those on the fence will need more from Renee Ellmers than a school marm lecture.