The Tennessean concludes a story about the near invincibility of Tennessee incumbent congressmen with this short paragraph:
The lack of competition is not new in Tennessee, where the last incumbent to lose was Republican Bill Brock, who lost his Senate seat to Democrat Jim Sasser in 1976, when the Watergate scandal swept many Republicans from office.
Only that’s not true. Jim Sasser, himself three terms later was evicted from office. A commenter to the Tennessean article rewrote that paragraph this way:
The lack of competition is not new in Tennessee, where the last incumbent to lose was Democrat Jim Sasser, who lost his Senate seat to Republican Bill Frist, M.D. in 1994, when the Hillary Clinton universal healthcare debacle swept many Democrats from office.
Even substituting the word “plan” for “debacle,” would this paragraph make it into print?
This brings up two questions: Why did writer Bill Theobald and Gannett’s editors not know or catch the much more recent truth? And if they had not made the historical error, would they have been as willing to point out the early failed Clinton policies that led to the ’94 Republican landslide? Somehow I don’t think so.
There is an interesting juxtaposition of the aforementioned story with this one about State Representative Rob Briley’s refusal to step down after charges of drunken driving and evading police and admissions of his struggle with a psychological problem and alcoholism. Should Rep. Briley both run and win his seat again in 2008–something that is very possible in gerrymandered Tennessee–it would be a serious indictment of both a corrupt system and of us, Tennessee’s voters.