The congregation of folks that inhabit the Gold Dome and the greater #GAPol community is a relatively small one. We fight amongst ourselves like family but those that have been around the block a few times understand that the toes we step on today are likely connected to the fanny we have to kiss tomorrow. We thus try not to leave too many permanent wounds.
With this Sine Die we’re saying goodbye to some in our community. We’ll break down and talk more soon about some of the elected members who have decided to choose other paths. This post is about a friend of mine from the other side of the aisle. As the Senate Democratic Caucus communications staffer, Liz Flowers and I have been on the opposite sides of many issues. And, the same side of many issues.
She’s amazingly human when she’s not in war mode, and we’ve become good friends. So much so that we’ve enjoyed the occasional Facebook post from a local watering hole or three because you people need more to gossip about. Despite some encouragement from kibitzing outsiders, we’ve remained “just friends”, though her mother is a saint and with some negotiation may have even been willing to consider me for family membership. She’s good people, and at this point would be willing to consider many aggressive solutions to move her daughter back toward the right of center political spectrum. We all know this is largely futile wishful thinking, however. Liz is true blue.
Liz will be taking a job in New York City with Demos, and is relocating. This was no snap decision. Starting over in a new place is never easy. Completely uprooting your life, especially when things are going OK and you have a good local network of friends, is never easy. Liz is ready for the next challenge and is moving to a bigger stage. The opposition party is getting stronger with her move.
We’ve both talked about where we are in our stages of political activity and life and what will be next. I made my decision a few years ago and am still proceeding on plan. Liz has now made hers, and I wish her all the best. You should too.
In one of those conversations I lamented that perhaps I should have just tried to become the next Lewis Grizzard. That ended up getting me a story, as Liz was once the subject of one of his columns. Jim Galloway’s piece today reminded me of that, specifically when he said that “the occasional sophomoric hijink is one of the many traditions of the Legislature.”
Liz is an unabashed feminist. Lewis Grizzard was an unabashed chauvinist. And Liz, the feminist, got into the middle of one of the stories about a hijink that Grizzard, the chauvinist, seemed to think should have been left to handle in the traditional way of letting the boys be the boys.
WAAAAY back in 1993, a lobbyist brought an apron to the capitol. It was a novelty apron, and under it was a replica of male anatomy, made of cloth. It was presented as a gift to a ranking State Representative. He found it humorous, tried it on, and had some fun with it. A male teenage page witnessed the frivolity, and told his mom about it. Hilarity did not ensue.
The mom complained to then Speaker Tom Murphy, who ignored it as a harmless prank. Mom took the issue public. Witnesses to corroborate the story were sought. Liz the feminist was known to have also witnessed part of the prank. Liz is a team player, but also isn’t one to lie. She and another feminist were named publicly. We’ll pick up with the words of Mr. Grizzard (from the AJC, August 6 1993):
According to reports, two women – Clara Bowers Bostick, past president of the Georgia chapter of the National Organization for Women, and Liz Flowers, executive director for Georgians for Choice – saw Rep Benefield wearing the apron that day in a hallway and demonstrating it “for a group of laughing men.”
When Rep. Benefield saw the two women, they said he “smirked” at them.
You’re showing your cloth penis to your buddies at the state Capitol and two women see you doing it. But they’re not just any two women. They’re card-carrying feminists. How unlucky can you get.
And, to make matters even worse, you smirk at them. If there’s anything a man shouldn’t do in the ’90s, it is smirk at a couple of feminists, regardless of whether he’s wearing a cloth penis at the time or not.
Smirking implies smugness which implies insensitivity, which implies white male indifference to the feminist cause, and all sorts of other evils.
With the two women’s smirking report, Rep. Benefield is now facing a criminal investigation and possible ethics charges.
I’m not certain how he can get out of all this. If it were me, I would apologize to everybody involved, beg their forgiveness and move to Costa Rica.
Or, I’d hang myself with my cloth penis and hope I didn’t die with a smirk on my face.
I’m sure there’s a lot of folks reading that wistfully wishing we could go back in time to days when fake male members could be waived around the capitol in order to Make America Great Again. Liz would like them to know that she’ll still be watching, and it’s only a two hour plane ride for her to come back and kick their ass.
Hopefully we can have a glass of wine or three when she returns for one of those trips. I’ll do my best to be chivalrous and not chauvinist to hopefully avoid the same fate. Cause if I were to step out of line she’d be glad to kick mine too. That’s what friends are for.
Going to miss you my friend. Don’t forget to write.