The story of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his mistress has dominated the news in recent days, even prompting one national journalist to imply that the Edwards mess somehow posed a problem for Barack Obama.
David Gregory, of MSNBC, actually asked, "Is this another skeleton in the Democratic closet that Barack Obama must struggle to overcome?"
Huh? How in the world are the two related?
Gregory's off-the-wall question inspired David Fiderer of Huffington Post to do some searching of his own, looking closely for skeletons in Republican closets. What better place to start than Alabama.
OK, so now we know the new ground rules. The private life of John Edwards, who currently neither seeks nor holds public office, is a legitimate story for mainstream media because he was a hypocrite and because he lied.
As for hypocrisy, check out Alabama's chief law enforcement officer . . .
Ah, that would be Troy King. And Fiderer is having a serious load of fun pulling the mask off our boy Troy:
"I took a little bit of pride in the state being first in something that is good, decent and right," said Attorney General Troy King in 2004, when Alabama became the first state to refuse recognition a same-sex marriage begun in Massachusetts. That year, he reaffirmed an editorial he wrote as a law student in the early 1990s in the University of Alabama student newspaper. "The existence of the GayLesbian Alliance on this campus is an affront to the state of Alabama, its citizenry, this university and its students," he wrote. So would an Attorney General who conducted a homosexual affair with a subordinate in betrayal of his wife and three children be an affront to the state of Alabama and its citizenry? King isn't talking.
Ouch. But Fiderer wasn't finished with "Rapid Troy the AG Boy:"
So far, the media has given Attorney General Troy King a pass, even though anyone above age 12 has figured out that King's "no comment" responses about the affair constitute a de facto admission. Welcome to the Alabama, where politics, the law and the press are beyond parody.
In a July 31 radio interview, Troy King was adamant. Nobody was going to get a look at any of the skeletons in his closet. Nobody was going to examine DNA evidence that might prove King was sending an innocent man to his death. Nobody was going to examine the document that, King claims, impeaches a witness who claims that the death row defendant is innocent. (See Amnesty International's summary of the case against Thomas Arthur.) And nobody is going to get King to respond to "rumors."
Dale Jackson asked the questions, including one about the 2006 homecoming king of Troy University, King's alma mater. (You can't make this stuff up.) More specifically, Jackson, an Alabama radio talk show host, asked King about the meteoric rise in the career of John Godwin, who started working for King as an intern in 2007, when he was a 23-year-old senior majoring in broadcast journalism.
"Soon, he was on the payroll at $10 an hour, and he quickly advanced from there. As early as July 2007, Godwin was named a special administrative assistant earning more than $39,000 a year. Within nine months of arriving as an intern, Godwin was King's executive assistant, drawing more than $57,000 a year - close to what entry-level lawyers earn in the office." The Birmingham News, July 29, 2008. . . .
Jackson: "Another story that's out there right now a story that eventually you're going to have to answer to a story that eventually you're going to have to address so I figure I'm going to be the one who asks the question. There have been these rumors all over the blogoshere , there are rumors everywhere I get them every single day, I don't see it going away, I see it getting worse, worse and worse. And the rumor says that you were caught with a male aide [i.e. John Godwin] by your wife, she threw you out of the house because you were gay and that there was some sort of problem going on there. Is there any part of that rumor, any part of it . . ."
King: "Hey Dale . . . "
Jackson: "That is true in any way shape or form?"
King: "Hey Dale, to this point, the answer has been the same as it is today. I don't discuss rumors."
Jackson: "So your answer is a no comment basically."
King: "I don't talk ...I don't discuss rumors."
Fiderer leaves us with this titillating detail:
The National Enquirer may not pay someone to stalk and photograph the comings and goings of Troy King, but some enterprising backpack journalist may want to make a name for himself. According to one source, King and Godwin are still exercising together at the Montgomery Central YMCA.
I hope Fiderer will continue on his quest to find skeletons in Alabama's Republican closets. Who knows what Fiderer might find there, but I bet it will be a rich vein of material.
Why, just the other day I was doing research at a local courthouse when I stumbled upon a most interesting lawsuit that was filed last year in Montgomery. It doesn't contain any sexual hijinks, but it includes a lot of goodies about hot-button issues--money, greed, gambling, religion, threats. We'll be posting on that in a few days.
And if you want to look for skeletons involving the really big fish in the national GOP pond, consider this post from Alabama blogger Robby Scott Hill at his Revolution Magazine site. Hill is one of several Deep South bloggers and journalists who have followed the Big Wheel Recycling case. I'm not sure I can explain what it's all about, and I admit it seems a bit far-fetched. But when something involves south Alabama, north Florida, the Bush family, Karl Rove, lots of money, and dead bodies . . . I tend to think that most anything is possible.
According to Hill, Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley is the most recent individual with connections to the Big Wheel investigation to turn up mysteriously dead. Before that was Charles D. Riechers, head of the Air Force procurement program.
One blogger, at Gone Like the Wind, says the case involves a "Dixie Mafia" and links it to the Don Siegelman prosecution.
Those kind of skeletons make John Edwards' affair seem pretty tame.