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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

John David Dyche Finds "Frankfort Stooges Don't Entertain During Sessions", But I Reject His Call For David Williams' Overthrow!

(Marc Murphy draws a good representative cartoon, but inexplicably, doesn't include Greg Stumbo as a Stooge. Stumbo must be his buddy).

Frankfort Stooges don't entertain during sessions
Written by John David Dyche

Kentuckians can be forgiven if they conclude that the latest Frankfort fiasco featuring Gov. Steve Beshear, Senate President David Williams and Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo is a publicity stunt to promote the new “The Three Stooges” movie that opened last Friday.

The leadership trio that began the 2012 regular legislative session by producing a blatantly partisan and unconstitutional redistricting plan concluded that session with a puerile personal spat that prevented passage of a transportation budget and a pain pill bill.

This state’s citizens have been poked in the eye, hit on the head and slapped silly so many times by this triumvirate that it really is not funny anymore. How long will we put up with this slapstick act? Unfortunately, we are stuck with Beshear for a while, but prompt change is possible, and indeed essential, with the other two.

Beshear’s motives in bringing on the end-of-session breakdown are patently political and perfectly transparent. His strategy is to focus maximum attention on the unpopular Williams in hopes of ousting the Burkesville Republican from the Senate presidency. By doing so, Beshear believes, he can complete his quest for the Holy Grail of expanded gambling.

The Governor’s call for a special session that will probably cost taxpayers at least $300,000 is without doubt one of the shabbiest, sorriest and most unworthy state papers in Kentucky political history. In vintage Beshear fashion, the Governor accepts no responsibility for his own leadership failures and instead fills the proclamation with empty rhetoric, excuses and inappropriate personal attacks on Williams.

There is, however, a method in Beshear’s mendacity. The Democrat hopes to hang the albatross of Williams around the necks of Republican senators and Senate hopefuls who are up for election this fall. If they fear being linked too closely to the unpopular Republican leader, the Governor’s thinking goes, perhaps they will finally force Williams out of his post.

The Governor has tried and failed in other such anti-Williams gambits, but Senate Republicans deserve what he is trying to do to them. They had the chance to change leadership after Beshear “whooped” Williams by almost 21 percentage points in the 2011 gubernatorial election. For whatever reason — fear, loyalty or just plain lack of political skill — the Senate GOP stuck with Williams. Now they must ride out this confrontation with him as the party’s face and voice.

There is admittedly an aspect of Greek tragedy to Williams’ situation. He is, after all, right on most matters of policy. And unlike Beshear and the Democrats, he has a smart reform agenda for a better Kentucky. But the bitter and often abusive Williams has made many more enemies than friends along his path to power, even among his fellow Republicans. The press has, of course, demonized him beyond rehabilitation.

Despite being a rascal in his own right, the wily Stumbo rules over the House relatively free from the kind of critical media scrutiny that has mortally wounded Williams. Stumbo does his dirty work with a smile, a wink and a folksy anecdote that disarms critics and turns his listeners into his co-conspirators.

House Republicans have been in the minority so long that they sometimes display symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome toward their Democratic captors. The GOP needs a net gain of 10 seats to change that this fall. It is possible, but even if Republicans do take the House if Williams is still in charge in the Senate he will fight with them every bit as bitterly as he now does the Democrats.

Voters should still give Republicans a chance to run the lower chamber. It is impossible to imagine how things could get any worse. The electorate should also demand a leadership change in the Senate as a condition for supporting any Republican candidate there.

As for Beshear, a single stooge cannot do nearly as much damage as three of them can. But voters must beware of any plan for 2015 to substitute Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson for Beshear. That would just be replacing Curly with Shemp.

John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney who writes a political column on alternating Tuesdays in Forum. His views are his own, not those of the law firm in which he practices. Read him online at; email:



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