Politics » Politics Feature

Santa's Leftovers

What might our pols have gotten from that red-suited bagman? And what lies ahead?

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If there was ever a year in which all of us — not excluding our political leaders, impostors, and hopefuls — needed a break, something real and positive in our Christmas stockings, it was this year. Following is a list of goodies that assorted political figures might have gotten, or should have gotten, as holiday presents. In some cases, the presents do double duty as resolves for the New Year.

Barack Obama — New, more upbeat lyrics for the traditional folk melody "That Bucket's Got a Hole In It." The new president, an accomplished author of two highly readable books, will have to finish writing the words himself, however.

Steve Cohen — A special all-points V.I.P. hall pass for the Obama White House, so the Memphis congressman won't be hassled by overzealous ushers as he was when he lingered too long in the Christmas Tree room at President Bush's annual Christmas party. Knowing Cohen, he'll log some quality time in the Oval Office.

Brian Kelsey — A fresh supply of thermo-sealed envelopes to aid the Germantown state rep in packing and returning the pork in case likely state House speaker Jason Mumpower forgets his high-minded budgetary resolve and begins rewarding his GOP cadres with too many goodies for their districts.

Fred Thompson — A closetful of leisure suits for the actor and former senator to aid his guest stint as a chief of detectives in the ABC police drama Life on Mars, about a 2008-vintage New York cop dumped into the past by a space-time warp. Supply renewed annually, so long as the show is and they keep casting Thompson in his supporting role.

Lamar Alexander — A written guarantee binding all future Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate to oppose the GOP caucus chief's nomination of distinguished African Americans for federal positions, à la Dem majority leader Harry Reid's initial resistance to new TVA board member William Graves, a C.M.E. bishop beloved of Memphis' inner-city voter base and — need we add? — championed by Alexander.

Bob Corker — A union card — any union card — to dispel the ire aroused in organized labor circles against the junior senator from Tennessee, formerly regarded as a moderate, for his staunch opposition to an unconditional bailout of the Big Three Detroit automakers.

Bob Tuke — Legislation requiring all Tennessee news media to run weekly reminders of Tuke's identity from now until the next election season in 2010. The template for such notices should include the facts, unfailingly mentioned by the deserving but little-noted 2008 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, that Tuke was a Marine and that he served in Vietnam.

Willie Herenton — A proclamation from the new president not only pardoning the long-serving and long-suffering Memphis mayor for all imaginable high crimes and misdemeanors — past, present, and pending, ranging from the possible to the purely fantastic — but requiring letter-to-the-editor scribes and members of the press pack to get lives and find something else to do with their time.

A C Wharton — A bag of switches. The mayor for all seasons — and jurisdictions — already has too much going for him; a little harmless adversity will further humanize the well-circumstanced county mayor and city mayor wannabe.

Carol Chumney — A new ghostwriter who will trash the mayoral hopeful's autobiography-in-progress, entitled I Was a Librarian for the FBI, replacing it with a revised draft entitled Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better (with lots of glam shots and a special dedication to A C Wharton).

Myron Lowery — Another bag of switches, for use by the longtime deserving councilman in persuading the heavily favored Wharton not to make a race for city mayor, leaving the way clear for himself.

Jim Kyle — A falling-down-on-their-knees, road-to-Damascus-style conversion of at least three Republican members of the state Senate, giving the Democrats' minority leader from Memphis the votes, after all, to call himself speaker. (Kyle may have to wait a couple of years before he has something like that to unwrap, however.)

Jimmy Naifeh — Just one such flip-flop by a GOP state House member, allowing the longtime Democratic speaker from Covington a chance to hold onto his job (and to stay out of the basement lavatory where the triumphant Republicans are likely to relocate his office).

Sidney Chism — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that term limits for elected officials are unconstitutional anywhere in the United States — or if that can't be arranged, at least in Shelby County, where the county commissioner has been a tireless, and so far unsuccessful, crusader against them.

Keith Norman — A map helping the current Shelby County Democratic chairman (and potential mayoral candidate) find his way to the IBEW headquarters building on Madison, where the party's executive committee customarily holds its meetings, often without him.

Marsha Blackburn — A reputable auditing firm (if one can still be found in post-crash America) to help the 7th District congresswoman prepare timely and accurate financial disclosures.

Rosalind Kurita — Oh dear, Santa just plain forgot about her this year! Not even the return of the 19-vote majority taken from her by a vengeful state Democratic committee can put the diminutive Clarksvillian who voted Republican Ron Ramsey into a speakership back in her state Senate seat.

Mark Norris, Bill Gibbons, Zach Wamp, Bill Haslam, Ron Ramsey, Beth Harwell, and such other Republicans besides Bill Frist who aspire to run for governor in 2010 — An authoritative statement from former Senate majority leader Frist that he has no intention of running.

Bill Frist — Nothing. Like A C Wharton, he's so far regarded as a walk-in if he chooses to make his race.

Tennessee Democrats — Somebody, anybody who could make a credible run against Frist.

Robert Lipscomb — A gift certificate entitling the city's arena-disposal chief to do whatever he wants for as long as he wants at any Bass Pro Shop establishment in the country. (But don’t hold your breath ‘til they get around to putting one here, Robert.)

Steve Mulroy — The deeding-over to the county commissioner and inveterate champion of the Zippin Pippin of enough downtown real estate (a portion of the Bass Pro parking lot would do nicely) to erect the vintage thrill ride.

Jim Strickland, Shea Flinn, and Reid Hedgepeth — Part-time jobs as auxiliary police officers for these tireless but so far frustrated council advocates of revised residency requirements.

John Willingham — One last platform for the former county commissioner and fulltime Cassandra to vent his far-fetched-sounding (but all-too-accurate) conspiracy theories about Good Ole Boy malfeasance. (Hey, he got twice as many votes for City Council this year as he did for mayor last year; he's on the upswing!)

John Ryder — An unlisted phone number for the Memphis lawyer and GOP national committeeman who reports being besieged for his vote by six candidates in the hotly contested race for national Republican chairman — including former Memphian Chip Saltsman, most recently the campaign manager for presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

Chip Saltsman — The job of RNC chairman, if he really wants it. We hear that the captaincy of the Titanic is also up for grabs if he wants that, too.

Joe Cooper — Respondents to a year-end plea from the twice-convicted former pol, government witness, and behind-the-scenes operator, who is just now awaiting the feds' decision on his own whereabouts for the New Year. The plea: Cooper wants to hear personally from any whistle-blowers in government who wish to report instances of graft and corruption. (Hey, we're not making this one up. Cooper says he's serious!)

Bruce Thompson – A good investment counselor to be pen pal with the former county commissioner for portions of 2009. He’ll need to know what to do with the nearly quarter of a million dollars’ worth of consulting fees he gets to keep following his six-month sentence for improper use of influence in securing a Memphis school-construction contract for a Jackson, Tennessee firm.

John Ford, Roscoe Dixon, and other Tennessee Waltz stingees in the slammer doing long-term sentences – Pen pals of any kind.

Harold Ford Jr. — Recommendations for how best to get back in the game, as in what to run for and when. No rush. Blessed with a new bride, ample income, and continuing public exposure as a TV pundit, he's got time.

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