Saturday, February 16, 2008
Political Witch Hunt Against Utah State Senator Chris Buttars Escalates And Goes National; Daily Kos Picks Up The Story
The political witch hunt unleashed against Utah State Senator Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan) continues to escalate, and has now gone national. A prominent leftist blog has picked up on the story.
According to the Salt Lake Crawler blog, which is affiliated with the Salt Lake Tribune, the Daily Kos has picked up on the Chris Buttars story, first publishing a critique about SB267 and SB260 in a February 11th post. Then on February 13th, Daily Kos published their analysis of the "black baby" remark, replete with the typical battery of left-wing canards.
But opposition back home continues to mount. On February 13th, the City Weekly blog, associated with the Salt Lake City Weekly, which bills itself as Utah's "Independent" Newspaper, launched a hit piece against Buttars. On February 14th, the Salt Lake Tribune published an editorial that excoriated his attitude towards those of different colors and different "sexualities", called him a "racist", but stopped short of calling for his resignation.
The Deseret Morning News has been a bit more restrained. In a February 15th editorial, they merely called on Senator Buttars to disavow any intent to run for re-election. And in a February 16th story just published, they report that key Republicans in the state legislature are also pressuring him to public disavow any intention to seek re-election. A new February 16th story in the Salt Lake Tribune echoes the same theme. KTVX Channel 4 attempted to interview him without success; you can see on the same page that according to their newest unscientific poll, 58% of respondents want Buttars to resign.
Update: KSL reports on February 16th that a Dan Jones flash poll of 241 people statewide shows the following:
- Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed say Buttars should resign.
- Twenty-one percent say Buttars should finish this legislative session but not seek re-election this year.
- Forty-two percent think Buttars should not resign and should run for re-election--letting voters in his district, West Jordan, decide his fate.
The remainder were apparently undecided. A flash poll isn't quite as scientific as a regular poll, but Dan Jones is considered the gold standard of pollsters in Utah.
Ordinary public reaction can be better gauged by viewing comments posted to a couple of KSL stories, HERE (417 comments), and HERE (161 comments). At least two-thirds of comments condemn Senator Buttars' remark.
It appears that only a small part of the opposition was offended by the remark alone. A larger number express concern about the impact this incident might have on Utah's public image. Some are scared that corporations might be reluctant to expand to Utah (God forbid that principle should ever come before profit in our rampantly materialistic society). Another batch of critics, who have been offended by previous public positions taken by Buttars, to include his opposition to Salt Lake's domestic partner registry (SB267) and previous opposition to gay-straight clubs on Utah's high school campuses (13 in Utah, 3,577 nationwide), are using Buttars' remark as an excuse to pile on him. It's a mugging.
Nevertheless, despite this vast correlation of forces assembling against him, Chris Buttars not only defended his apology, but is standing strong and refuses to resign. Buttars is a principled man who doesn't jump out of the frying pan just because it gets a bit hot. Perhaps this is one reason why his constituents in District 10 continue to send him back to the State Senate.
At the same time, should Buttars decide to run for re-election, District 10 constituents might want to also look at the flip side. Buttars loyalists might be tempted to go into Masada mode and defend him at all costs. Their loyalty would be admirable, but here's what could happen if Buttars was re-elected in damaged condition. The other lawmakers might want to distance themselves from Buttars, and could express their sentiments subtly by bottling up all of Buttars' bills in "committee". And, of course, those bills somehow would just barely miss making it out of committee by the time the legislature adjourned. District 10 would find themselves being under-represented. Needing a "stallion", they'd be stuck with a "gelding". While this possibility is painful and would be patently unjust, practicality warrants its consideration.
Ultimately this is an issue rightfully decided solely between Chris Buttars and his constituents. They hired him, and they deserve the only shot at reconsidering the decision. The NAACP has no dog in this fight and their opinion is irrelevant.
What warrants much greater concern right now is another bill pushed by Senator Buttars, SB260. Entitled "Disclosure of Public Employee Disciplinary Actions Amendments", it would permit a law enforcement agency to classify a record of disciplinary action against a peace officer as private unless the officer agrees to public release. This is bad news because it makes our law enforcement agencies less transparent. Peace officers are sworn employees equipped with various forms of restraint, to include lethal force. We have a right to expect transparency from these people; our taxes pay their salaries. I'm sure Jared Massey would agree.