Alabama Scene

A juxtaposition of sorts

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him

The scene in Montgomery last Saturday could be defined as a juxtaposition of one sort or another.

On the streets outside the swank, almost new, Renaissance Hotel and Spa, the reenactors of the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as the president of the Confederate States of America (CSA) were making preparations to assemble and parade up Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol where Davis had taken the oath of office on Feb. 18, 1861.

Many in the mostly conservative, generally Republican, crowd of about 3000 walked past the Renaissance Hotel on their way to reenact the stand against the repressions of a Republican-controlled federal government led by Uncle Abe 150 years ago.

The crowd was likely unaware that inside the opulent Renaissance, built with the backing of public dollars, the Republican Party of Alabama was meeting to celebrate its total electoral dominance of the “Cotton State” and to elect a new chairperson for the party. You see, for the first time since Abe and the Grand Old Party waged war against us and took over during its occupation of the South, the Republicans control the governor’s office, the state’s representative body… and just about everything else in Alabama politics.

“Yep,” said one capital observer, “the Republicans have morphed into the Democrats of 1861…or vice versa.”

Inside the Renaissance, the mood was festive as delegates prepared to vote on a new chairperson for the party. The candidates were Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery, a fortyish Republican vs. a member of the State GOP’s ‘old guard,’ 66-year-old Bill Armistead of Columbiana. The “old guard” won decisively by a vote of 234 to 136.

Then the “old guard” took the podium and immediately and very deftly placed the party’s collective foot in his mouth. Stating his primary task will be to defeat State Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Alabama Public Service Commissioner Lucy Baxley, the last two remaining Democrats holding statewide offices, he used these words: “I will do all I can to relieve these two ladies of their jobs.” The audience roared approval, but I suspect those words will come back to haunt the Republican candidates who challenge Cobb and Baxley if they run again.

You see, no matter how the speaker attempted to camouflage the word “women” by calling them “ladies,” the message will eventually come through to the women of Alabama. And that voice of an aging male attacking two women for nothing but the fact that they are female and are the only two Democrats to hold an office elected statewide, could certainly be an issue in the sound bite campaign of 2012. A couple of trees get our attention

Trees are important … but they are trees, for goodness sake. We slaughter them by the thousands every day. The poisoning of the Toomer’s Corner oaks is not an issue about trees. It’s more of an issue about who we are, what we value… and sanity. Look, I enjoy college sports. I want my UNA Lions to win and I usually favor Auburn but I also want all our state schools to perform well. I want the Crimson Tide to win until the Iron Bowl and even then, if they had a shot at a national championship it wouldn’t break my heart if ‘Bama prevailed. If neither team wins the big title, real life goes on… without missing a beat.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why fans of both Alabama and Auburn don’t want both teams to go into the Iron Bowl undefeated. It gives us the attention we crave, it’s a win-win situation for both teams, and the victor has a leg-up in the national title race because of the winning record of the loser.

Some want to blame the media for our insanity because the internet and radio cater so much to listener and reader feedback. Don’t blame the media. The venom spewed all over the ground is from those who participate in an uncivil tone and speak in redneck language.

It was heartening for me to see Alabama fans at the “Toomer Tree Hug” last week. Life isn’t a game. Football is.