Ditto

I intended to write a post this morning encouraging the political powers that be to stand behind Glenn Richardson. It’s no secret I’ve disagreed with a lot of his positions, particularly two years ago, but I think we’ve all seen him come back last year and become extremely effective.

He’s run circles around most of the other Republican leaders in the state, even dealing with all the personal problems he has dealt with. The GOP needs competent leadership however flawed that leader may be.

Anyhoo, Joel McElhannon beat me to it. The open letter he wrote and sent out this morning is below the fold. I’ll just say “ditto.”

One more thing — I’m told this is going to get a bit uglier in the press. There’ll be a 911 tape, I’m sure, and a bunch of other stuff. There’ll be partisan sniping and intra-party back biting too. But I believe in second chances and don’t believe we need to toss an effective leader because he has person demons to overcome.

It may be a sad commentary on the state of GOP leadership in Georgia, and I think it probably is, but Glenn Richardson is effective. The GOP would be wise to stick with him.

Joel’s statement below the fold:

By now, everyone involved in Georgia politics knows that a tragic combination of disease and poor choices has brought one of Georgia’s most prominent leaders to his knees.

Before the typical political game of cheap shots and self righteous chest pounding begins, I urge everyone involved in the political process to take a step back and show Glenn Richardson, the man, a small measure of the common decency he deserves.

I have known Glenn Richardson for many years.

One of my more memorable experiences with Glenn, the man, dates back to 2002 slugging it out with him in the campaign trenches helping Bill Heath win his campaign to unseat the former Speaker, Tom Murphy.

He has always been a man possessed with a fiery commitment to principle and a quick laugh.

We have witnessed him rise from a House member in the minority party to arguably the second most powerful position in State government. Like anyone in that position, he has accomplished great things and made great mistakes.

Before uninformed hacks run amok questioning my reasons for this letter, allow me to be clear that I am not a member of Glenn’s inner circle. I am neither ally nor enemy. I have sung his praises and have been openly critical of him.

In the past I have publicly criticized his leadership style, which, until last session, was unnecessarily combative and divisive.

However, Glenn also deserves great credit for learning from his mistakes and changing his approach to governance this past session. He evolved into a much stronger leader who put the interests of the state above the pettiness aimed at him from various corners.

From my perspective, the vast majority of elected officials in this state, from both parties, are good human beings who are simply trying to promote the principles and policies in which they believe. Most possess a genuine desire to serve their neighbors and communities.

They are also human. They have flaws and quirks. The pressures put on them reveal in harsh detail their strengths and their weaknesses.

Glenn Richardson shares all of these qualities.

The worst kept secret in Georgia politics has been the Speaker’s personal turmoil these past few years. The demons he has wrestled have been plainly evident to everyone involved in politics and, occasionally, to the public as well.

The cabal of pundits, arm chair political “geniuses”, cheap seat online commentators, media hounds, and special interest insiders will soon chime in with their whispers and blog posts.

As predictably as the sun rising tomorrow, those ever loyal political allies who loudly proclaimed their friendship with the Speaker just a few short days ago will start their orchestrated dance of distancing themselves from Glenn, the man with flaws.

However, before everyone rushes for the exits leaving Glenn to suffer alone, I urge everyone to take a moment and show this man the basic respect of understanding.

Millions of Americans suffer from the disease of depression and often in ashamed silence. It destroys families and often ends in tragedy.

This is not a game. It is about a person’s life and his family.

Yes, Glenn has made mistakes. He is a grown man and will need to deal with them.

Yes, Glenn faces serious challenges ahead. He needs to continue whatever treatment he is undergoing. I am sure for his sake and, more importantly, for the sake of his family, he will do so.

Before the cabal starts calling for his resignation or whipping up rumors of palace coups, let’s keep some perspective.

Glenn Richardson can still effectively serve as Speaker.

Glenn, to his credit, has surrounded himself since the start of his Speakership with a very strong leadership team. Mark Burkhalter, Jerry Keen, Jan Jones, and Jay Roberts, just to name a few, have distinguished themselves as solid leaders in their own right. They share with the Speaker a commitment to conservative principles and a friendship that will only grow stronger. The Speaker has relied on these leaders to help him run the House so far. He simply needs to continue to rely on them to insure the House runs smoothly and effectively.

This is the Georgia House we are discussing, not the White House. It is not like Glenn has his finger on the red button and can launch a nuclear attack on Tennessee if he has a bad day.

We, all of us, in both parties, would do well to remember that our closets may not be so empty of skeletons either. Democrat party leaders and elected officials of both parties should be slow to cast the first stone and open up battles concerning families and personal struggles. No one wins in that kind of nuclear campaign environment.

The vast majority of arm chair activists, pundits, editorialists, and bloggers should do themselves a favor and just shut up.

You have never had the courage or ability to hold public office, so you have no concept of the pressures those with that courage and ability must endure. After dealing with legitimate constituent problems, crazy calls at all hours about dogs barking and obnoxious neighbors, election challenges, political forces pushing them in every direction, and the pressure all of this puts on their family, to have to endure your ridiculous rants and stunningly uninformed cheap shots is a special kind of hell. Spare us your hyperventilating.

We should all keep in mind that Glenn, despite his faults and his personal failings, is simply a man trying to accomplish something he believes in and help the state he loves. Along the way, he has stumbled.

I, for one, am more than willing to extend a hand of sympathy to a man of accomplishment who deserves better than being kicked while he his down.

I personally hope that Glenn will do all that he possibly can to obtain treatment for his depression and do all that he can to protect and serve his family.

Whether he finishes his term as Speaker or whether he seeks re-election is something for Glenn, and Glenn alone, to decide. As long as he is seeking treatment and continues to faithfully execute the duties of his office, he deserves the opportunity to finish his term and offer himself for the office again.

It took enormous courage to face his demons, and even more so to face them in public. That kind of courage commands a genuine respect from friend and foe alike that allows him to make his own decisions in his own time.

I fully expect the jackals to come out and try to pick over what many may view as his political carcass. Yet I continue to hope, perhaps foolishly, that those of us in this political game, from the playing field up to the cheap seats, will rise above the expected political pettiness to show just a modicum of common decency.

Let’s give Glenn Richardson, the man, a chance to heal and get back to the political fights with Glenn Richardson, the Speaker, later.

33 comments

  1. I think ALL the comments on that initial thread… those saying he should resign, and those saying he continue as Speaker no matter what… are all very premature. Depression should not be a bar to political office, yet at the same time illness reaching the level of attempted suicide requires very serious attention.

    Richardson and his family should be in our thoughts. As for his political future, the only justifiable thing to say right now is that people should keep an eye out in the months ahead to see if things are worsening or affecting his job performance. Right now, nobody really knows what they’re talking about yet.

  2. Brave New World says:

    “Let’s give Glenn Richardson, the man, a chance to heal and get back to the political fights with Glenn Richardson, the Speaker, later.”

    He has not been diagnosed with multiplt personalities, Joel. Depression is completely different, and ÿou would do well to stay away from writing commentaries on this kind of circumstance.

  3. Rick Day says:

    The vast majority of arm chair activists, pundits, editorialists, and bloggers should do themselves a favor and just shut up.

    You have never had the courage or ability to hold public office, so you have no concept of the pressures those with that courage and ability must endure. After dealing with legitimate constituent problems, crazy calls at all hours about dogs barking and obnoxious neighbors, election challenges, political forces pushing them in every direction, and the pressure all of this puts on their family, to have to endure your ridiculous rants and stunningly uninformed cheap shots is a special kind of hell. Spare us your hyperventilating.

    er..no. Nice try. This is like saying “If you don’t support the invasion of Iraq you are a supporter of terrorism.”

    I am a citizen, voter, resident and business owner in the State of GA Indeed, I have ‘brains’. I also have a different path in life. Dur..

    The Speaker of the House has his finger on every ‘red button’ important to me, personally and professionally. I want to know what medication he is currently, and was taking during the Session, what the side effects are, and if his ability to be outwardly focused (and not ‘manipulated by these others on his team’) was impaired.

    Legitimate questions, all.

    No one gets a free ride from legitimate scrutiny, especially in the public sector and ESPECIALLY in a “Top 5” state leadership position.

    This board regularly hosts posts slamming and defending political figures, including regular posts on the subject.

    If you want ‘fair and balanced’ a la FoxNews, close all comments pertaining to the said individual. Better yet, just censor any attempts to discuss the issue until ‘things get better’.

  4. Doug Deal says:

    The question is not really if the GOP should dump him as speaker, but he should resign on his own accord, perhaps not as a rep, for the very reason that the attempted suicide demonstrates he is under much more pressure than he is capable of handling.

    On the personal level, he should be more concerned about his own health instead of maintaining political power. On a political level, he is supposed to be handling the state’s business. If he is incapable of handling it, there are 8 million or so other people in this state. Among them, I am sure there is one who can.

    I feel sympathy for Speaker Richardson, but it will be hard to have sympathy for him attempting to maintain the speakership.

    If people truly care about his well being and not simply interested in who wields political power in this state, they would want him to reduce the pressures and stresses in his life so that suicide is a less likely envent going forward.

  5. Doug Deal says:

    The vast majority of arm chair activists, pundits, editorialists, and bloggers should do themselves a favor and just shut up.

    You have never had the courage or ability to hold public office, so you have no concept of the pressures those with that courage and ability must endure.

    This is the most absolute asinine thing I have ever heard. Politics is not putting your life on the line in a battle field every day. It is nowhere near the stress that cops face in the line of duty in traffic stops, domestic disputes, and other potentially life threatening situations. Or the stresses faced by firemen, ER doctors or even a good number of people that have to face tight deadlines, or make a payroll during a recession, caused by the very political class that Richardson belongs to.
    There are harsh realities in the world and grownups should learn to deal with them. The speakership is not an entitlement and should be held by someone up to the job.

    • Sleepy Tom says:

      Oooooohhhh….Doug makes very good points. I don’t think the gods at Red State will allow you to stand in their presence using THAT kind of rational logic, though.

    • David says:

      Sounds like there’s much more to this story that is gonna come out. I am always a bit suspicious of the motivations of a politician who comes out with admissions like this, whether they be repub or democrat. This guy has stepped in it big time over the last several years with his personal failings to his family. No one wants the speaker to die and I’m glad he’s ok now, but I can’t help but see Jimmy Swaggart trying to get sympathy from his flock by saying “I haveeee sinneddddddddddd…”

      • macho says:

        IMO, there is no job tougher in politics than Speaker of the House. The amount of people you have to corral to maintain order is huge. Keep in mind, in your heard are a bunch of jackals that will strike at the slightest weakness. You maintain your position through relationships and intimidation, sympathy is not one of the arrows in the quiver.

        • Sleepy Tom says:

          “The amount of people you have to corral to maintain order is huge.”

          Not really. All you need to do is identify the top 10 or 15 people who will be fiercely loyal to you, appoint them to chair committees, and the rest of the flock either comes along, or gets banished to far away offices where they have to share space with the opposite party.

          • macho says:

            Banishment works well as long as the flock is slightly intimidated, all bets are off when they sense weakness. When there is perceived weakness, ambition trumps loyalty. Those fiercely loyal committee heads can become your worst enemies overnight. It’s really not all that different than the Sopranos.

  6. B Balz says:

    Many world leaders effectively did their jobs while battling with depression. Abe Lincoln and Winston Churchill come to mind.

    Best to you Mr. Speaker, I am confident that if you decide you need to make a change, you will do it.

  7. Dave Bearse says:

    What exactly has he been effective at, what our the principal accomplishments of his four Speakership opportunities to date?

  8. Sleepy Tom says:

    Everyone has “monsters of the id,” even the calmest and seemingly stable of politicians and ordianry folks.

      • Sleepy Tom says:

        No, but they do other harmful things to themselves and the others around them. They cheat on their spouses. They drink themselves silly with alcohol. They hook themselves on drugs. They take bribes. They lie to people.

        AND, some of them hide behind monikers and post all day on a blog declaring themselves to be the most perfect judge of others, all the while covering-up who they really are. And how screwed-up others would view them if they actually knew about their own problems.

        Frankly, I do not even understand the fascination of others who view suicide attempts (or, even successes) in the prism they do. I can find no commandment in the Bible regarding the prohibition of killing oneself.

        Some folks just get fed-up and take matters into their own hands. That’s not insanity. What’s insanity is standing by and waiting for someone else to break so you can pounce on them, devour their problems, point out their deficiences, and then leave their carcasses whilst you strut about as if you’re perfect.

        • Doug Deal says:

          Another ridiculous post by a bling partisan. If it was Barnes or some other democrat, you would but a big negative sign in front of everything you said in this post.

          If he cannot handle the pressure in his life that suicide has become a valid option, he should not be in charge of one half of the legislature of the state.

  9. The Wonderer says:

    I wonder:

    If you were booked on a Friday flight and learned that the pilot had suffered from recurring depression for at least several years and had tried to kill himself the previous Sunday, to the point that he technically succeeded but was revived… WOULD YOU STILL BOARD THE PLANE or would you wait an hour or so and fly with someone hopefully more stable?

    • Ludowici says:

      WOULD YOU STILL BOARD THE PLANE or would you wait an hour or so and fly with someone hopefully more stable?

      …and that applies to this situation HOW? Seems like this blogging crowd of geniuses, again, is demonstrating some strange tendencies themselves. Last time I checked, I am in charge of my own destiny (business and otherwise), not Glenn Richardson. He’s NOT flying an aircraft at speeds approaching the speed of sound and my life DOES NOT depend on his ability to safely bring the craft to a stop on a prepared surface. Lighten up, Francis. More of us should focus on caring for our fellow man’s well being, as JMac has demonstrated, and less on what BENEFIT our fellow man may or may not bring us. SHAME ON YOU “wanna be” pundits.

  10. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    This is tantamount to feeling bad for Kurt Kobain….Someone who(se) had it all…

    “play me a river…”

    He has more than 99% of the other people out there..and we’re supposed to feel sorry for him…?

  11. kcordell says:

    I wasn’t going to comment but, I have to side with David on this. We now have more questions than answers. Now I haven’t read every word posted so some of the questions may indeed have been answered already. Exactly when did this happen? Was it drug related? How did his attempt fail? Did someone find him and save him and if so who? Did he go to the E.R.? I’m sure more things will be made public as cooler heads prevailbut, the questions I’ve posed would be a good start. OK, you can now flame away.

    • macho says:

      “Exactly when did this happen? Was it drug related? How did his attempt fail? Did someone find him and save him and if so who? Did he go to the E.R.?”

      I’m sure we’ll find out in due time, but does any of that really matter? The attempt is all we really need to know about, the rest is for the gossip pages.

  12. willow knows all says:

    We, all of us, in both parties, would do well to remember that our closets may not be so empty of skeletons either.

    Sounds like Joel is putting in a plug for his candidate.

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