The Prodigal Speaker

The political events of the last month have been fueled by a growing sense of arrogance and entitlement which has infected state Republican leadership and driven them far from both the ideals they were elected to represent, and the people they were elected to serve.

I write this as someone who is a fellow sinner, as someone who understands arrogance fueled ambition and the tragic consequences it can have on his own personal and professional life, and the harm it can do to those around you. My blogging screen name, Icarus, is used as a constant reminder to myself to be wary of the dangers of this arrogance. I do not wish to fly too close to the sun again.

I was fortunate to have been traveling and unavailable to compose immediate blog posts when the two major stories of this saga have unfolded. It has given me the opportunity to try and collect my thoughts on these events, attempt to gain proper perspective of the magnitude of what state Republicans are facing, the gravity of the consequences of actions of Republicans over the next month, and the sense of urgency that swift and decisive corrective action must be taken to not just paper over the most egregious actions, but that wholesale changes must be made.

Before we address these issues, however, I feel it important to discuss the situation of Glenn Richardson, the man. It is an understatement to say that I have not been a fan of Speaker Richardson. It is for this reason I did not write on this event in the days after his suicide attempt. He is someone I thought should have been replaced as speaker long before his issues of depression became public. It seemed disingenuous to join the chorus of those proclaiming his suicide attempt did not matter and they stood behind him without question.

It also seemed obvious that many screaming their support the loudest were standing behind him with knives sharpened, posturing for public goodwill while calculating their move for a change of power that was all but assured with an announcement so devastating that it was assured a man battling severe personal demons would also be able to fight off those constantly looking to improve their own position of power. Those that enabled Speaker Richardson to engage his own self destructive behavior would soon enough determine him no longer the conduit to their own power, but a liability threatening it. The actions of an ex-wife appears to have accomplished their work for them.

I intend to spend a bit of time dealing with the enablers over the next few days. But the chorus of those who proclaimed support for Glenn Richardson and his personal health are now silent. His power soon gone, the still troubled man is now officially broken. The attention of most wishing to maintain or improve their position have moved on.

I equate the story of Speaker Richardson, and my own, to that of the prodigal son. There are few things more personally embarrassing, nor more of a blow to personal self image, than knowing you have taken everything you had and squandered it while living a life of this world while ignoring the path to an eternal life beyond. The prodigal son is given to us as an explanation that redemption is available for those who ask for it, but the process is not like hitting a reset button.

The prodigal son, like most politicians or successful businesspeople, had lots of friends when times were good. There are many willing to hang on and eat from the table of those who will provide eat, drink, and other party elements. The Entourage culture has existed for over 2,000 years. It is easy in politics to forget that those who are friendly are not your friends. Most exist to get what they can from you, and when they no longer can, they will move on to those who can continue to grant them favors.

It is clear from his actions this week that Richardson still has not “hit bottom”. The prodigal son had to spend time eating among the pigs before realizing that returning to his father’s house as a servant was better than living alone and hungry among vermin in the wilderness. I now understand the importance of this passage. Losing everything you have can make you understand the importance of the things that cannot be taken from you in this world, and especially the importance of the eternal world I hope to one day attain.

The ending of the story of the prodigal son provides reassurance to those who still wander the wilderness. It can provide a safety net to those who are still engaging in loose living, knowing that no matter how badly they may screw up, they can always return home to a father with open arms and a joyous celebration.

For me, the return home was bitter sweet, as my earthly father had passed away during my wayward years, and wasn’t there to greet me with the embrace described in the book of Luke. It is equally unlikely that Speaker Richardson will not meet his wife when he returns from the wilderness. The characters at the feast of the fatted calf are not meant to be our earthly family, but those who remain in the family of faith; those who value salvation and redemption.

I will continue to keep private citizen Richardson in my prayers, and would encourage you to do the same. He will need every one of them.

I will also continue to write over the next days, weeks, and months about Speaker Richardson, the enablers in the house, and other Republican leaders who continue to squander the values of the Republican party with riotous living. Many of these posts will be cold and blunt. I believe the Speaker is not the only person who should or will leave their seat of power. There are many who need to return to their father’s house as servants.

Redemption is a gift that is available to us all. Yet it is not a gift that is available merely by saying “I’m sorry.” or “I won’t do that again”.

Many of our leaders have earned some time among the pigs.


  1. ByteMe says:

    There are many who need to return to their father’s house as servants.

    This implies they did their bible studies for more than just using them to drum up political support.

    • Truthteller says:

      Byte, that’s a pretty rotten thing to write. Keen and Johnson are good people, dedicated people, and honest people.

      I don’t care if you like their politics or not, but how about not judging their religious faith?

      They both seem to keep to it pretty well, actually.

      • ByteMe says:

        Judging their lack of commitment to their stated faith is indeed one of the points being made not just by me. You don’t like it? Tough. The two you mention helped enable an adulterer to gain more power for themselves. Very in keeping with their stated Christian faith? Not.

        • Jeff says:

          Care to show me in OCGA where adultery is a crime? Grounds for divorce, absolutely. But a crime?

          I saw some things about Johnson’s religion that are online yet not publicized, and honestly from that angle the guy looks solid to me.

          • Jeff says:

            Even in the Bible, one of the most famous scenes of adultery included the statement “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and ended with: “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

          • ByteMe says:

            Ain’t my party going around telling other people which that marriages are “sacred” but only those marriages they approve of. Ain’t my party going around trying to stick their noses between my wife’s gynecologist and his patients who need an abortion. They claim their views come from the bible. They cast the first stone on everyone who disagrees with their interpretation of their bible.

            It’s their wedge issue. And I’m all for them getting a wedgie from it now.

          • Jeff says:

            Had a source point this out to me:

            Turns out, adultery IS a crime in Georgia!

            OCGA 16-6-19 states “A married person commits the offense of adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.”

            Seriously, I know quite a few elected officials at all levels read this site – can we PLEASE get that asinine law repealed?

          • Truthteller says:

            Oh I get it now. It all comes back to abortion for you, eh ByteMe?

            You condensed it all down to gay rights and abortion as the real reason you hate conservatives.

            You libs are so predictable.

          • Truthteller says:

            Actually, never, Byte. As in, ever.

            Read your history: Truthteller is his nemesis.

            Kind of like…Alabama to Florida, wouldn’t you say?


          • ByteMe says:

            TT, so I did. You and he are very similar:

            You both use name-calling as a childish tactic to get a rise out of someone.

            You both stalk people out here.

            You both clearly need help for some personal issues. I truly hope you get it. Hugs!

          • Truthteller says:

            By golly gee, Byte.

            By that standard — I’ve known all along that you are really Barney Frank!

            Your words…they are so similar and intellectually heavy. You both want to hug me…

            And you are both liberal. Hmmm…..

          • ByteMe says:

            I doubt either of us want to actually hug you. I’m just hoping people around will do it more. Good for the soul.

  2. Truthteller says:

    With no basis in fact other than the implication that you somehow know their hearts, Byte, you summarily dismiss the religious beliefs of Eric Johnson and Jerry Keen.

    Kind of intellectually light weight, don’t you think?

    How about we debate policy and integrity — that’s fine. If you don’t like being criticized for attacking some folks religion, gosh. Tough.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      I agree and think that those platforms should also be available to the public. This isn’t for class president. This election will mean a lot over the next year. Real decisions need to be made about the future of this state and they will not be easy choices.

  3. Rick Day says:

    Even in the Bible, one of the most famous scenes of adultery included the statement “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and ended with: “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

    I guess this means we can do away with bench and jury trials, yes? yes?

    Or is this one of those…’selective interpretation clauses’ Christers™ are famous for?

  4. Debra says:

    This isn’t about the adultery, it’s about using his position to get legislation passed that benefited his girlfriend.

  5. Donna Locke says:

    I don’t care what the elected do in their person lives as long as it isn’t illegal or unethically and unfairly affecting the jobs they have been elected to perform. Also, some betrayals, such as what our current House Speaker in Tennessee did, can’t go unfought.

    • Doug Deal says:

      Yeah, as long as there is an R behind that name (well one that isn’t helping Democrats) then all is fine. Have the D’s do the same thing and it is intollerable.

      You should have been a doctor, you really have the HYPOCRITEic Oath down cold.

      • Donna Locke says:

        Well, Doug, if you are addressing me, you don’t know me. I’m not interested in getting into the elected’s personal lives/relationships unless the situations have the relevance I mentioned above. I don’t care.

        The first political campaigns I was really involved in were those of a Demcorat in Cobb County back in the Seventies. He was running around with single and married women (not me, by the way) and was the first to tell anyone he had been a terrible husband. But he was very good at his job in the court system and was re-elected on that basis.

        • Doug Deal says:

          If you are referring to the fact that a single Republican in Tennessee sided with 49 Democrats to take the Speakership over his 49 Republican colleagues objections as the worst scandal in modern times and think that using state resources to secure nookie and other perks for members of the House is perfectly fine and that covering up those acts is finer, then you suffer from hopeless partisanship and hypocrisy.

          If these were back bench people, fine, let their voters deal with it. These are supposed to be our damned leaders. Why do we expect the least ethically from those with the most power?

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