Monday, August 30, 2010

Joseph O. Patton: The Real Robert Bentley steps forward

  Sorry, but arrogance won’t endear you to Alabama voters, Dr. Bentley….

  As the campaigning days roll by, ticking down to Game Day in November, we’re increasingly seeing Robert Bentley - the GOP’s nominee for governor - for who he truly is.

  At a candidate forum in Arab, Alabama, the popular subject of an education lottery slipped into the dialogue. When questioned about opponent Ron Sparks’ proposal, Bentley dismissively swiped it down and offered no solution of his own, no alternative. But he didn’t stop there… Like a scolding schoolmarm, Bentley pointed at the audience of voters and lectured them, arguing that it’s their responsibility to provide for their children’s post-secondary education.

  Never mind that voters aren’t in the mood to be harangued, especially by a wealthy doctor who appears to be immune to current economic conditions. Never mind that the state is plagued by gruesome unemployment. Never mind that a college education’s cost continues to climb through the roof, increasingly out of reach for working Alabama families, and the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program is in its waning days.

  In fact Bentley’s words prompted a visual of him astride a majestic horse like a king, aloof and disconnected, smirking and chuckling as he threw pennies into the mud for us lowly peasants to wrestle over.

  The basic conservative philosophy has some merit - that government should stay out of our lives…. Only how many among us - Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, independent - would like to do without labor and food safety laws, statutes that prevent discrimination, and everyday necessities like the American interstate system? Or what about Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans Administration care? The philosophy itself has its charms… but in such a time of turmoil when most Alabama taxpayers are struggling to feed their families, stay one step ahead of a home foreclosure and in many cases simply trying to keep the electricity on, how kindly will we take to a wealthy specialty doctor wagging his finger arrogantly at us, scolding us to somehow make money fall out of the sky to educate our children?

  Alabama voters to this point may have found Bentley’s folksy charm and grandfatherly demeanor to be cute… but as we see more of his layers pulled back and his true self exposed, we should be far more concerned that he appears to be out of tune, out of touch and rapidly running out of campaign gimmicks.

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

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