September 26, 2020

The Shame Of Election-Year Politics

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As the old folk song goes, “When will they ever learn? When will they e-ver learn?” so too can this be applied to those desperate politicians selling their souls for a vote. Not surprising as well is the fact that these acts of desperation aren’t relegated to just one party. Any politician will do it.

Every two years when the lying, cheating and conniving pundits hit the campaign trail promising things like “bridges to nowhere” and “I voted for it before I voted against it”, we often are witness to photos staged to show politicians out on bird hunts or deer hunting or something of the like. I think if they moved the election time to the spring of the year we could more easily accept a candidate reeling in a sucker than one posing awkwardly with a rifle or a shotgun pretending to be a hunter.

So what’s the latest? Well, I guess photo opportunities are passe. Now it is evidently more chic and effective to tell lies about your past experiences as a hunter and a fisherman. Afterall, it seems that our society has become quite accepting of lying. Most Americans believe it to be okay under many circumstances.

The latest culprit is the republican nominee for the Governor’s seat in Tennessee. His name is Jim Bryson. According to a report published yesterday in the Tennesean, Bryson described himself as an outdoor sportsmen, more specifically a hunter and fisherman.

“I’m a hunter. I’m a sportsman. I enjoy fishing. I enjoy doing things with my kids out on the lake. We’ve got to make sure that our water and our air, especially here in beautiful East Tennessee, is held appropriately.”

According to a representative of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Mr. Bryson doesn’t have a hunting or fishing license in his home state.

Janice Graves of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency told The News Sentinel Wednesday that a review of TWRA license records _ conducted at the newspaper’s request — showed no record of Bryson ever holding a hunting or fishing license in Tennessee. The records go back 10 years.

That’s not a big deal because I’m sure upon further review we’ll learn that Mr. Bryson has been a busy man and hasn’t obtained a license in the last ten years. He moved to Tennessee from Arkansas back in 1984. Heck that’s 22 years. I’m sure he hunted those twelve years prior to record keeping or maybe he travels out of state to do his hunting and fishing – maybe even out of the country; Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon.

Lance Frizzell, a spokesman for Bryson, attempts to weasel his way around this. I would call it bailing. Some spokesman.

Frizzell then said Bryson has not done any hunting or fishing in Tennessee but does both when he goes on family vacations to his father’s farm in Arkansas.

“He shoots skeet and then goes fishing on the pond there at the family farm,” Frizzell said.

Frizzell said he considers skeet shooting, a sport that involves shooting at airborne clay targets, to be hunting.

He also said the senator owns three shotguns — two 12-gauge, one 20-gauge — and recently purchased a BB gun to teach his son how to shoot.

Frizzell said he was uncertain whether a fishing license was needed to fish on his father’s Arkansas farm.

“I think Tennesseans, if you asked them, would say it would be OK to go fishing on the family farm without a permit,” he said.

I think he’s going down with the ship here. I was also under the impression that the reason a candidate like Bryson hired a “spokesperson” is for just such occassions. What’s that old saying? Who needs enemies when you got friends like this?

I can see it all now. Bryson faces the cameras, cocks his head just slightly to one side, squints his eyes up into two little beads, points his finger and says, “I didn’t shoot my gun at that deer, Miss Doe!” Or how about this line, “I don’t even know what a license is”. I guess that would really depend on the real definition of what is is.

It only gets worse. Frizzel said Bryson fishes at the family farm pond. Uh, oh!

But Jill Shaw of the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission’s licensing division said even landowners — exempt from normal hunting and fishing license requirements in Tennessee — must have a license in Arkansas.

“You are required to obtain a hunting and fishing license if you’re fishing anywhere in Arkansas, period,” she said.

Before you go getting all mad at Mr. Bryson, I’m sure he had a license while back living in Arkansas and when he goes home to visit the farm.

Shaw told the newspaper that a review of Arkansas licensing records found no record of Bryson ever holding a license to hunt or fish.

I’m not much of a hunter that gets around to a lot of different places to hunt. As a matter of fact if I recall, the only state I have hunted in is Maine. We don’t have skeet listed at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as huntable game. I wonder what it tastes like? Is there a bag limit?

Bryson’s opponent, democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Bredeson, has a combination hunting and fishing license along with an extra permit necessary to catch trout. Phew! I wonder if he has ever actually gone out and used them?

So, to the faithful who follow the campaign trails, it looks like business as usual. Who cares if Bryson lied. He may not know what a lie is. Seriously! When Richard Nixon said it during the Watergate scandal, he was lying. We all knew that and laughed at him. But today, I’m not sure that anyone knows anymore that it is wrong.

When voters jump into the polling booth on November 7th, I’m sure before they push that button or check that box for Tennessee’s governor, they are going to ask themselves, “Did he really go fishing with his kids on the family farm without a license?”

Tom Remington

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