Reader Mail

A Tennessee Tempest

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam's campaign responds. The Prowler replies. Plus: Scott Brown's independent streak. Tiger brainwashed. Ron Paul's party. Obamacare, and more.


Re: The Washington Prowler's Tea Party Tennessee:

A recent article titled "Tea Party Tennessee" included many false statements and mischaracterizations regarding the Tennessee gubernatorial race taking place this year. Because a good portion of that article was about one of the candidates -- Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam -- it would seem prudent to contact his campaign to fact check or for comment prior to the article's release, something your publication failed to do.

The article stated that Mayor Haslam gave his campaign "millions of his family money" and "opened his checkbook for the ad buys." This is completely untrue. Mayor Haslam has outraised every candidate in the race more than 2 to 1, while only donating the $5,000 maximum any individual can give during the election cycle. This total donation is far less than the loans and contributions of some of the other candidates to their own campaigns, including the $61,000 Congressman Wamp loaned to his effort -- something your article fails to mention. The Bill Haslam for Governor campaign's recent television advertising purchase was paid for by money raised from more than 7,300 contributions we've received from folks across the state, not from "family money" or "his checkbook" as your article suggests.

The article also dubs Haslam a "moderate to liberal establishment" candidate and Wamp the grassroots candidate. Mayor Haslam is a life-long conservative who is pro-life, pro-family, a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and a champion of fiscal restraint. And with all due respect to Congressman Wamp, the Tea Party folks we talk to tell us that a career politician from Washington, D.C. who voted for the Wall Street bailout is unlikely to be their candidate of choice.

Furthermore, the article mentioned "most polls" having the Congressman in the lead, but the poll you are referring to was a single poll conducted by the Congressman's own campaign more than 8 months ago. The Congressman himself just finished his "announcement tour," so the race is only now beginning to heat up. Conventional wisdom has been that Mayor Haslam is the frontrunner for the nomination because he's significantly outraised the other candidates, was the first to visit all 95 counties, has established the largest grassroots leadership team, and was the first to take his campaign to the airwaves. We're comfortable letting the voters sort it out come August.

Finally, the article consistently used unnamed sources to make incredible claims about the beliefs of the Mayor and large groups of people that would probably prefer to speak for themselves. Suggesting that "national conservatives" feel a certain way without naming a single such person, or using an unnamed source to relay how the Mayor supposedly feels, or suggesting that another unnamed source represents the beliefs of an entire state political party not only led you to make inaccurate statements in your article, it suggests a general lack of professionalism and adherence to basic journalistic ethics.

-- David Smith
Press Secretary
Bill Haslam for Governor

The Prowler replies:
Mr. Smith should be excused for the above letter, as he is probably new to the Haslam campaign. How else to explain the inaccuracies, obfuscation, and confusion?

Mr. Smith appears to be terribly focused on Representative Wamp, when there are, in fact, two other fine Republicans in the race. Until recently, all three have been active on the campaign trail far more aggressively than Haslam. While perhaps the Haslam campaign believes there was some kind of political gamesmanship going on with the item (akin to how Haslam's key adviser Tom Ingram uses his media contacts to gin up positive fluff pieces for his candidate), its purpose was essentially to highlight Haslam's expensively -- and Hollywood -- produced advertisement. An ad that has now been criticized for misleading facts by Tennessee media reports.

My item said that Mr. Haslam, who has raised millions, opened his checkbook for the almost $1 million ad buy. The item did not state that it was a personal check. The campaign is well-financed, and has made no bones about it. And in Tennessee it is well known that the Haslam family is willing and able to commit personal funds to the campaign.

Mr. Smith's response simply confirms what everyone else knows: that Haslam and his campaign are doing everything they can to hide what many perceived to be Haslam's weakness: ties to a family oil and gas business (he continues to decline to release his income tax returns) that has been accused of price gouging its customers during difficult times.

But allow me to provide Mr. Smith with some background on his own candidate, since he doesn't seem to know much about him.

First: Mr. Smith seems unaware that his boss was one of the first signatories to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun organization. Only after Haslam decided to run for governor did he remove his name from the list of members. The National Rifle Association, an organization known for supporting the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans, warned state and local officials about signing on to Bloomberg's group. Second: Mr. Haslam, when running for mayor of Knoxville, was indeed happy to portray himself as a candidate who supported fiscal restraint. But then he got elected and raised Knoxville's property tax rate. 

Finally, Mr. Smith says with certainty that Mr. Haslam is pro-life. I wish Mr. Haslam could say so with the same conviction.

Re: Ben Stein's The Manchurian Tiger:

I totally disagree with you. It is not OK for anyone to be lying and cheating especially when it has to do with wife and family. Trust is trust. If I can't trust you with a little, how can I trust you with a lot? Thus it is especially not OK for icons and role models in the American society to be lying and cheating and violating trust. Tiger was built up as a talented, hard working, and honest athlete. His reputation combined with his relentless pursuit of perfection and his resulting winning ways made him the icon he is today. Tiger's work ethic and proper demeanor won numerous new fans to the PGA Tour. This brought new sponsors and tons of new money to the tour. The purses are bigger than ever. The number of tournaments exceeds anything in the past. Children who never considered golf now play golf. People from every tribe, tongue, and nation now play golf because Tiger broke the race barrier. He was the float that all other boats were anchored to. But his bubble burst when we not only found out he lies and cheats on the most important task he has in life, the tending and keeping of his marriage and family vows, but he turned out to be a perverted sex addict.

I don't care what you think, that does not sell in America. Corporations invested millions in the man, the icon, and the symbol of a strong work ethic and pursuit of perfection. Those companies invested because they were selling what Tiger was representing. When he broke his covenant vow with them in such a perverse way as he did with his wife and family, they had every right to fire him, and they had every right to an accounting for such deviant behavior. The problem in America today (and it continues to get worse everyday) is nobody wants to be held accountable. People want to do whatever they want. It's all about me, mine, and today! No one wants to do what's best for society. The man had it made -- playing a game he loved with a beautiful wife and wonderful children with all the money in the world. But it was not enough. His true character was revealed, a character that is opposite to what he was getting paid for. The free market system had to cut him off because unlike you, Mr. Stein, ultimately the silent majority in this country who spend most of the money on the products that the companies that sponsored Tiger Woods sells, are disgusted by such deviant behavior and such a shallow character.
-- Tim Vertz
Coral Springs, Florida

One is compelled to (respectfully) disagree with Ben Stein, regarding Tiger Woods. The situation is not as private as Mr. Stein suggests. Mr. Woods was presented to the public, over a period of many years, as a very clean-cut, upstanding, virtuous young man -- the sort of fellow anyone would be happy to have his daughter bring home to dinner, or his son emulate. Many sponsors sold their products using this very image, and we consumers gladly purchased those products, partly because of the Woods image.

In the end, however, it was all a sham. Tiger was never the clean-cut fellow we were lead to believe him to be. He was chasing anything with a skirt like there was no tomorrow, and, if we are to believe one porn star mistress, causing problematic pregnancies along the way.

So, it turns out, we the public were had, and then some, and for quite a long period of time. And now Mr. Stein says, well it's just a private matter. I don't think so, and I suspect most other folks don't think so, either. No one likes to be scammed, and that's what Tiger did to us. If he now looks like he's been hit by a truck, that is as it should be.
-- D. Reich
Auburn New York

An athlete -- I guess golfers are athletes -- cheating on his wife with the collusion of the media is not Greek tragedy; it's gossip TV fodder. In a sane world, the REAL story would be the contempt journalists have shown their readers by actively hiding from the truth. Perhaps the media should investigate themselves.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Your underlying argument and basis for such is undeniable relative to Woods, but I can't help but get some pleasure out of Woods's predicament. The ever-present fawning by the mainstream media and especially the TV announcers was always sickening. Instead of letting his excellence at golf speak for itself they consistently tried to out-do each other in "worshipping" at the Tiger "altar". He should still listen to Brit Hume of Fox News regarding a Christian lifestyle but apparently he still thinks Buddhism is somehow the answer. Good luck in that one.
-- Jack Wheatley
Royal Oak Michigan

What Ben Stein, and others who wonder what all the fuss is about, appear to overlook is that golf is not a mere pastime, as rock & roll music and Hollywood picture-making and Wall Street bond trading are. As the Rules of Golf put it:

Golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.

Now, a man who will cheat off the golf course inevitably will cheat on the course as well. (Indeed, as RET and many others have noted, we have Bill Clinton as a shining example.) Golfers know this in their hearts, and even those golf fans who aren't golfers themselves have most likely absorbed at some level an understanding of that "spirit of the game." When a golfer is caught cheating, his reputation is damaged irreparably. He may repair it somewhat, but he will never repair it completely. And that is why Tiger Woods has fallen so far, and so hard.

You scoff? Then I await your better explanation.
-- Doug Welty

Re: : Andrew Cline's Scott Brown's Shrewd Vote:

Okay. This is a compelling piece and I'll retract anything I have said about Brown.
-- Steve LeMaster

Raising deficit spending is “what’s best for the people”?? Looks much closer to more of the same to me! What is independent about that?
-- Joe

Thank you for understanding what is happening.  I am Republican Conservative but not a naive one who thinks you could elect a Jim Inhofe in MA although he voted with Scott Brown for the bill and then got called a RINO on some sites.  Shows how little people know about politics to call Sen Inhofe a RINO because he voted for the bill.  It was smart politics and he was just elected overwhelmingly in Oklahoma, which gives him leeway to vote for something like this and help end the Party of "NO" label the media has been running with for awhile now.  Small price to pay.  The chances of this bill surviving the House are slim to none but it gave Brown a chance to go on record if it comes back to the Senate filled with pork, he votes NO!  Smart move on his part.   Cannot believe some of what I have been reading and frankly if people don't get it that New England states electing a Republican Senator is a huge deal, maybe they should refrain from commenting.  This idea by some conservatives that Republicans have to walk to lockstep is wrong just like their wanting to get rid of so-called RINOs from the Party so they can have their 'purist' candidates who cannot win. Fortunately they make up a small portion of Republicans but sure have the loudest mouths.   Thanks again for a great article,
-- Sharon

Oh, please!  Who cares whether he is "independent" or "goes his own way"?  Anybody who votes for stupid bills, regardless of party, should be criticized for what he is: either a fool or a cynical time server.
-- Michael

Re: Bill Croke's Big Al's Antique Roadshow:

Why be surprised if a politician of either stripe has never heard of this-or-that publication? We know that the Republican leadership didn't know Michael Steele had a book coming out. These guys don't know what people who -- theoretically -- believe what they believe are publishing. Why should the opposition be expected to know?
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

Re: W. James Antle, III.'s Ron Paul's Party:

I knew James Antle, III. had a thing for liberal blue lapdogs so I guess I shouldn't be surprised to discover he is infatuated with the Republican Hamlet, the "wild shrimp cowboy," Mr. $410 million in earmarks Ron "Porker" Paul. Ron Paul, who denounces "pork" and wasteful government spending, is the poster boy for corrupt DC political demagogues and wasteful government spending. Annually, Paul swaggers up to the government trough and dips his greedy snout into the swill and fills up -- then has the gall to condemn government spending and deficits. In 2009, Democrat MSNBC (who loves wasteful government spending) was so disgusted by Paul they chided the liberalterian Janus's hypocrisy. Who would have guessed the station of Keith Olbermann would be disgusted by excess?

Instead, of TAS trumpeting a pyrrhic CPAC "victory" and trying to shove phony baloney down conservatives' throats, its time would be better spent unmasking liberal frauds like Ron Paul. Why not call for reform that bans the egregious earmarks that make political swine like Ron Paul possible? Frankly, it would have been better for CPAC, conservatives and Republicans if Paul had just let Bruno "pork" him in that DC motel room - then he could GOProud as King of Earmarks.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Re: Philip Klein's Obamacare Faces Tough Road in the House:

The ObamaCare fiasco reminds me of General Douglas Haig, the British commander at the Somme in 1916 in the First World War. After his first wave was annihilated by German machine guns, Gen. Haig sent in more waves. The results were hundreds of thousands of British casualties without any significant change in the strategic situation. This insistence on pursuing this health care objective seems, in light of the current political situation, similarly unimaginative and foolish. It is obviously motivated by an ideological attachment to the ideal of a nationalized health care system. The problem is that the cannon fodder that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are offering for sacrifice are not Tommies in stinking trenches, but senators and congressmen who rather like their jobs and would just as soon keep them. Will they really be willing to go "over the top" when the whistle blows?
-- Michael Hofstetter

Re: Jeffrey Lord's An Open Letter to Michael Smerconish and Jennifer Stockman:

That's a lot of ink to waste on a talk show host who does little more than harangue his audience on a nightly basis.
-- Mark Epstein

Re: Jeffrey Lord's White House Accused of Federal Crime in Specter, Bennet Races:

Maybe Obama and his thugs may learn what "hoist by their own petard" means? Here's hoping.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.

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