Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis has been conducting a world-class whine fest ever since he got spanked in the 2010 Democratic primary for governor. Davis has bolted to Virginia and supposedly started a law practice, but he can't seem to resist taking shots at his home-state liberals, whom he blames for costing him the governorship. Never mind that Davis repeatedly sided with corporate interests and insulted his own party's progressive base in the weeks leading up to the election.
Artur Davis does not seem capable of accepting accountability for his own failings, so he has to blame someone else. And his blame game has taken on outrageous forms in recent days. How did a man who once seemed to hold considerable promise sink to such depths? Our explanation is simple: Artur Davis is a sorry human being, a man who thinks almost totally about himself and no one else. A valued source, however, says it goes deeper than that. Our source says Davis is a product of the dysfunctional political system in Alabama, a place where it's hard to tell a Republican from a Democrat, especially among white elites.
Specifically, our source says, Davis got involved with Jere Beasley, Alabama's most powerful trial lawyer and head of a firm that made national headlines last year for filing a bogus lawsuit against Taco Bell. Beasley paints himself as a Democrat and has raked in enough cash over the years to become a party kingmaker. But he also is a BFF of Homewood lawyer Rob Riley, who just happens to be the hopelessly corrupt son of our former hopelessly corrupt GOP governor, Bob Riley.
What does all of this mean? We will explain in a moment. But for now, Davis is like a cat who got trapped in a washing machine, going round and round, with dirty laundry everywhere. The machine has stopped and spit him out--wet, dizzy, and more than a little bitter. Now he's desperate to blame somebody, and it's not a pretty sight. Davis seems incapable of pointing fingers in the right direction--at himself and the white elites he decided to bed down with. No, he must concoct all sorts of imaginary enemies among Alabama progressives and tie them to his verbal whipping post.
To make matters worse, our source says, Davis' law practice in Virginia has been mostly a flop. He now is serving a four-month fellowship at the Harvard Institute of Politics. It all has left him with loose moorings--a man without a party, without much of a career, and with a powerful need for attention. That has led Davis to say and write one nutty thing after another.
How bizarre have Davis' public utterings become? First, he opined that Republicans should draft former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as their 2012 presidential candidate. He even wrote a piece for National Review titled "Draft Jeb Bush: A Charismatic and Accomplished Governor Can Save the Republican Party." Why is Davis, ostensibly a Democrat, suggesting ways for the Republican Party to save itself? Why does Davis have a man crush on Jeb Bush? Beats me.
Davis then topped himself by stating that he regretted stepping forward, as a Congressman, to question the Bush-era political prosecution of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. Those remarks came in an interview with the Mobile alternative bi-weekly Lagniappe. The article is titled "A Man Without a Party: Artur Davis' View From Political Exile." It's a wide-ranging, well-written piece by Jeff Poor--and it gets really interesting when Davis discusses his regrets of recent years:
In 2007, Davis was serving on the House Judiciary Committee and had been outspoken about the 2006 conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. He implied that the Bush administration had been playing politics with that conviction. That along with remaining in office during his 2010 gubernatorial run he said were his two main regrets while in politics.
"Well, people ask me a lot do you have any regrets from the last several years in politics, and I tell them number one, I should have resigned from Congress during the governor’s race so that we didn’t give our opponents in the Democratic Party the convenience of using federal issues to beat me up in the governor’s race,” he said. "And running for governor is a full-time job. You can’t run for governor and have a job that takes a significant amount of your time unless you have some apparatus where you can hand your office over to someone. In Congress it is hard to do that because you have to cast votes and you have to travel back and forth.”
"Regret number two is candidly, I wish I had never been as vocal in raising the issues around Don Siegelman’s prosecution in 2007,” he said. "Once I raised the issues around Don Siegelman’s prosecution, two things happened that frankly surprised me that were enormously disappointing.”
What were those two things? Davis says standing up for Siegelman made him appear soft on crime, and by questioning the actions of the Bush Justice Department, Davis called his own integrity into question.
If you are a coherent, rational human being, that paragraph will leave you scratching your head. Davis, in so many words, is saying that he now regrets appearing to have principles--he now regrets suggesting that federal prosecutions should focus only on actual crimes, not the political affiliation of the accused. Artur Davis is saying that he regrets standing up for due process and equal protection under the law--that if a man has to choose between fundamental constitutional rights and his own political career, he should choose the career stuff every time.
Artur Davis probably wonders why some people in his home state view him as the Incredible Shrinking Politician.
How did Artur Davis land in such a pathetic place? Our source says it's partly because of Davis' alliance with Jere Beasley. Davis' hopes for the governorship rested largely with Beasley's money bags. But Davis made the mistake of standing up for Siegelman-case whistleblower Jill Simpson at a 2007 Congressional hearing on political prosecutions. Davis appeared determined to get at the truth in the Siegelman case, perhaps shining unflattering light on GOP Governor Bob Riley and his ugly ties to Karl Rove, Michael Scanlon, and Jack Abramoff.
That greatly displeased Jere Beasley, who has made it a practice to partner with Rob Riley on legal cases involving nursing homes, vehicle rollovers, and the like. Our source says that Davis was instructed to can the righteous crap and side with the corporate, Riley-loving, white elites. Davis did as he was told and wound up getting pummeled in the Democratic primary by a 24-point margin.
What to make of Artur Davis? I think his political career is toast, and he pretty much admits as much near the end of the Lagniappe article. Davis also reveals that he is a confused individual, wrestling mightily with his ability to ascertain the truth, to digest matters of basic right and wrong.
Davis has developed the verbal tic, common among Republicans, of frequently using the terms "frankly" and "candidly." If you are bored or OCD or both, try poring through the Lagniappe article and counting how many times Davis uses those words. (My count is eight; not that I'm OCD or anything.)
Those words are popular among Republicans because they can be used to hide flagrant dishonesty. They give the listener or reader the impression that, "Hey, this guy's really cutting to the chase with me." Discerning citizens, however, know that just the opposite is happening. When Artur Davis constantly prefaces his comments with the terms "frankly" and "candidly," he is signaling that he hasn't been frank or candid previously. He is trying to cover up his dishonesty with buzzwords.
We aren't falling for your tired act, Artur. Some of us fell for it once upon a time--but never again. If we want a candidate who kisses Jere Beasley's doughy butt, in order to protect the corrupt Riley gang, we'll vote Republican.
As for what you have to say . . . we, frankly, don't give a damn.