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.