Artur Davis revisited

I’m reading a Robert Ludlum novel — hey, I need a break from the news — but it resonated for me on Artur Davis’ vote against the healthcare reform bill.

His staff, and I guess Artur, is up in arms about my Sunday column.

The basic concept behind the Ludlum novel is a bad guy who is seeking good. He has a computer that calculates future events, and those calculations suggest he should occasionally kill good people. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death was a tragedy, as a character puts it, but his death created a martyr and tremendous good resulted.

Artur found a way to vote against the healthcare reform bill — which thankfully passed despite his vote — and after reading his voluminous discussion on the issue, and after speaking to his frustrated aide, I remain convinced his vote was motivated by his candidacy for Alabama governor. He wants to be governor, he’s convinced his affirmative vote for healthcare reform would brand him a liberal, and he fears that’s not a brand that works in Alabama.

The question is whether ends justify means. In the Ludlum book, a computer program made clear that killing good people would result in social benefits. Artur Davis is not wielding a Glock, but he is facing similar issues.

My guess is the congressman wants the best for his constituents. I would also guess that he sees, correctly, that Alabama has managed incredible success at subjugating the low and middle class, especially in his district. The upper crust has managed to recruit those they subjugate, a fact I suspect Davis understands.

The issue is whether Davis should pretend he is something he is not. I suspect he is pursuing a Trojan-horse strategy. ‘I’ll pretend to be a moderate, and then as governor I will help the downtrodden.’

While I support his goal, I fear his path will fail because it is deceptive. Voters want honesty. Davis’ vote against healthcare reform was not just dishonest, it betrayed his struggling constituents. Ron Sparks is convinced, maybe with the help of contributors, that gambling and the lottery will solve every Alabama woe. At least among Democrat gubernatorial candidates, an honest Davis would look great.

In Ludlum’s novel, excessive reliance on intellect creates evil. A man motivated by good ignores simplistic ethics and does bad. Davis has the intellect Alabama needs; he has the right goals. He needs to remember that ethics and honesty, however, are simplistic.

Artur Davis is extremely intelligent, and his goals are consistent with most Alabamians. He needs to trust Alabamians to vote for him because of his beliefs, and he needs to fear how voters will react if they see him as a Trojan horse.

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5 Comments

Filed under Alabama politics

5 responses to “Artur Davis revisited

  1. not so fast

    Eric, your blog post is entertaining. I’m sure the novel you’re reading is entertaining as well. Glad you can find some time to read something besides the news!

    But you’ve overlooked a key fact that HAS been in the news for quite some time – – Davis has been HONEST in telling Alabamians since the beginning of this debate MONTHS AGO that he had hesitations about the bill, most specifically employers mandates. If requiring employers to provide health care in an economic downturn might prevent them from hiring more staff, does that hurt or help our already 10% unemployment rates? Are you sure he doesn’t have a negative affect on the downtrodden in his district you’re saying he sacrificed?

    If dishonesty is your chosen theme, you’ve also overlooked the fact that Ron Sparks has been deliberately dishonest on this issue (and others) – he told a group of business leaders he would not support the bill and then turned around and told the Bham NAACP he would. Since Davis voted no, he’s now become the self-proclaimed champion of the public option. This isn’t the first time he’s waffled on an issue, either. Davis did not mislead Alabamians – Sparks did. Just watch this: (http://www.youtube.com/user/arturdavis#p/a/u/0/lZas–2pLrs)

    And by the way, you’ve also overlooked that Davis has said he is still looking forward to a better version coming out of the Senate. He’s not opposed to health care reform – – that’s a simplistic take on the events that have taken place – – he had particular qualms with the bill that passed the House.

    First of all, I think you’ve made too many unprovable assumptions in your reasoning to carry water. Secondly, if you’ve read all the news as you say you have as I would expect you to have done, it would be impossible to write this piece without including these points. I think you should either stick to your principle of honesty or put down the novel and revisit the news.

    My $00.02..

  2. Jaime

    Eric:
    It is very unfortunate that you choose to go after Artur Davis in this manner. The people of Alabama still have a strong trust in his leardeship and his judgement.
    Davis has always voiced his opinion about getting a “great” healthcare bill. He has stated his hesitations publicly. People get it and we do understand. Take a moment to look at “what” he is referring to.
    Now, take note, the people have lost confidence in Ron Sparks. He has shown himself to be inconsistent and untruthful on pretty much all the issues. We can not and will not stand for that-good Southern folk just dont do what Ron Sparks is doing.
    Your column doesnt paint a whole picture or even look at Ron Sparks’ flip-flopping on the issues.
    Let’s get it right.

  3. Jaime

    Eric:
    It is very unfortunate that you choose to go after Artur Davis in this manner. The people of Alabama still have a strong trust in his leadership and his judgement.
    Davis has always voiced his opinion about getting a “great” healthcare bill. He has stated his hesitations publicly. People get it and we do understand. Take a moment to look at “what” he is referring to. Now, take note, the people have lost confidence in Ron Sparks. He has shown himself to be inconsistent and untruthful on pretty much all the issues. We can not and will not stand for that-good Southern folk just dont do what Ron Sparks is doing. Your column doesnt paint a whole picture or even look at Ron Sparks’ flip-flopping on the issues.
    Let’s get it right.

  4. Bob

    Eric:
    I, too, was immensely disappointed that Rep. Davis would abandon the interest of his district constituents in favor of his political ambition. I had great hopes that this brilliant, compassionate, progressive public servant would finally lead Alabama out of the wilderness. I was ready to volunteer for and contribute to his campaign.
    Let us hope it is Artur’s advisers that convinced him to abandon his principles (and constituents) on this historic, critical vote. He can still get rid of those advisers. Otherwise, it looks like Alabama will be stuck with four years of Bradley Byrne and the failed policies of the past.

  5. Werner Smock

    Dear Mr. Fleischauer,

    I enjoyed your article of Sunday, November 15, 2009: “Artur Davis betrayed constituents”. Actually, I must disagree with your assessment that Mr. Davis voting against the health care reform bill is not in the best interests of the 7th District. I believe he voted wisely, and here is why I believe that.

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that the health care reform bills that are being considered will generally raise the negative cash flow from a family approximately $3000 a year or about $250 a month.

    As a business columnist, you will realize that this health care reform program is actually several other programs bundled together. Here are a couple of the programs that are wrapped up in this health care reform package.

    1. The Un-employment Starter Program. The businesses that are required to participate in this health care reform package, will by necessity, either cut profits, salaries or hours worked or all three. This will mean that there will not be funds available to keep some employees, and at least make it much more difficult to expand business and hiring of new employees.

    2. The Personal Bankruptcy Starter Program. Also you will know that most personal bankruptcies can be avoided by an additional positive cash flow of $200 a month. Thus, with the proposed negative cash flow of $250 a month, this program will put many families already living on the edge will push them over into personal bankruptcy.

    So, I must disagree with your assessment that Mr. Davis did not vote in the best interests of the 7th District. He must realize that at least these two programs are included in the health care reform package, not to mention the “Lowering the Number of Students Willing to Go to College to be a Doctor Program”.

    Sincerely,

    A. Werner Smock
    343 Royster Road
    Union Grove, AL, 35175

    wsmock@mindspring.com
    256-498-2885

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