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Chambliss responds honorably

Timothy Kincaid

September 30th, 2010

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is not an ally of our community. In fact, he would be better characterized as a reliable vote against fairness and equality. But he also seems to be a man of honorable personal character.

When a hateful slur was posted on Joe Jervis’ JoeMyGod site, Chambliss acknowledged that it came from his office and turned the matter over to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Now the investigation is concluded and Chambliss has released the following statement:

“The office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms has concluded its investigation, and I responded to that report immediately with the removal of a member of my staff,” Chambliss said in his statement today.

“I have called Mr. Jervis, the blog’s author, and apologized to him personally, and I am sorry for the hurt this incident has caused,” he said. “Regardless of one’s position on issues and policies, such comments are simply unacceptable, are not befitting those who work in the U.S. Senate, and I will not tolerate them from my staff.”

His personal call to Jervis was dignified and went something like this (not a direct quote)

Joe, I don’t know if you’re Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, but none of that should matter. Because what was said on your blog by someone from my office is just not acceptable, no matter who is saying it and who it’s being said to. I just want to offer my sincerest apologies.

In this age of no-holds-barred Culture War when destroying “your enemy” seems to be of greater importance than whatever you’re fighting over, it is a pleasant relief when a US Senator behaves respectably. I’ve not gained any new respect for Chambliss’ policy positions on social issues, but I do have greater respect for the man.

Comments

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Thomas
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Actually, “honorability” would not be associated with the anti gay hate speech that the “honorable” Senator has consistently practiced in airing his “Christian” opinions about “the gays” in America. This man votes lock step with the Republican party to stigmatize and dehumanize gay Americans. Those with any doubt about this man’s “honorability” need only look at his campaign to unseat Max Cleland. The hate speech from his unidentified staffer is the fruits of the Senator’s hateful voting legacy.

B John
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Oh good Lord, I’m so tired of us making a loaf from a bread crumb. The guy responded like a decent human being should. You don’t get an A+ for simply passing the test.

It’s not even clear that he FIRED the person involved. All the release says is that person has been “removed.” I removed an old sofa from the front room once, but didn’t throw it out. I moved it to the back room. I want to know if the staffer is still on the public payroll. I want to know if my tax dollars are still supporting this person, and given that these are public employees we do actually have a right to know that.

So until the Senator’s general daily rhetoric comes down about 100 decibels, and we know the staffer is no longer on the public payroll, Chambliss gets a D.

Candace
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Yeah, yeah, this should be the norm but hell still just froze over.

Matt
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Yes, “honorable” and an image of the highly-decorated, wounded veteran Max Cleland morphing into Osama Bin Laden do not jive in anyone’s universe.

Let’s just leave it at “Meets Expectations” and try to figure out who can beat this SOB the next time and start funding him/her.

TampaZeke
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

I’m totally with B John!

And since the employee wrote “ALL FAGGOTS must die”, doesn’t Chambliss owe ALL FAGGOTS an apology and not just Joe?

The threat and slur was not directed at Joe so why is it that Joe is the only one getting an apology?

Sorry, I’m not seeing anything honorable about Chambliss’ LATE and incomplete apology.

We don’t even know what was done to the staffer. Anyone who knows politispeak should know that “removed” could mean a whole lot of things other than “fired”. In fact, it’s very likely that it just means removed from that particular position and “reassigned” to another. That would be why Chambliss isn’t divulging the staffer’s name so that no one can check.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Any one who votes against fairness and equality is not a man of honourable personal character. I see you regularly praising people who seek to oppress gays and it baffles me and makes me wonder if you’re not teetering on the edge of renouncing your gayness and going on the attack against the gay community.

customartist
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

The word “removal” Does Not equate to “Termination”.

There is a distinction, and the word was chosen very carefully.

The Hater is still employed, and within YOUR Government.

Second, This was a Message of Hate from a Governmental Office. Is this completely legal? Will there be any charges?

customartist
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Zeke,

I guess Chambliss sees Joe Jervis as the King of all Gays.

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Some here seem to be engaging in the no-holds-barred Culture War where destroying “your enemy” is the greatest goal. But our work is too important to squander on a moment of spitefulness.

I know you guys are better than that. Let’s not be like Maggie Gallagher. Let’s not let anger and hate and Culture War define us.

Chambliss behaved honorably in this instance and it costs us nothing to recognize that fact. But spitefulness does cost us a great deal: our own honor.

TampaZeke
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, you have NO idea if Chambliss fired the staffer. NONE! We have NO evidence to suggest that he did, yet you jump to the conclusion that Chambliss acted honorably.

I know you’re desperate for positive stories from conservative politicians but it shouldn’t mean that you make up details and promote them as facts to suit your aims.

Are you doing anything to find out more about this staffer and what exactly happened to him? Or is it enough for you to assume that “removed” meant terminated and not “reassigned”?

TampaZeke
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

And how insulting that you would accuse us of acting like Maggie Gallagher just because we ask very reasonable questions rather than making huge assumptions to make us feel all warm and fuzzy that a man who has NEVER been anything but antagonistic to gays and gay rights is suddenly to be trusted and given the benefit of the doubt when he uses vague and possibly misleading words to describe how he has handled the situation.

I think Chamliss’ past words and actions give us much more reason to question him than trust him.

justsearching
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

I agree with what others have said. The main story here is that Chambliss is trying to do damage control and, if he can, even put himself in a favorable light. He is doing precisely what any other Republican (or Democrat or Independent or Communist) politician would do because he knows that the the vast majority of the public dislikes the use of homophobic slurs. He performed the task any politician would have to perform, and this alone does not make me think that he is a “man of honorable personal character.” Maybe he is one, who knows, but this story does not demonstrate this one way or the other.

justsearching
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

“Chambliss behaved honorably in this instance and it costs us nothing to recognize that fact. But spitefulness does cost us a great deal: our own honor.”

I feel no lack of honor in not giving Chambliss a lap dance for his few nice words to a gay person.

TampaZeke
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

At least not all gay conservatives are blindly accepting the stealth words of Chambliss.

From Andrew Sullivan, who is clearly behaving no better than Maggie Gallagher:

Chambliss Responds – And More Questions
30 Sep 2010 10:12 pm

I’m a little late on this but the staffer who wrote “All Faggots Must Die” on JoeMyGod has now been fired, and Senator Chambliss classily called Joe himself to apologize. The twist, however, is that the comment did not come from Chambliss’ Georgia office, but his DC office and the culprit was not exactly “fired”. From the AJC’s Jim Galloway:

In a prepared statement, Chambliss also spoke of the immediate “removal” of a staff member – who was not identified. The wording is important. We’re picking up that the staffer was a military liaison assigned by the Pentagon — a fact that Chambliss’ office would not confirm.

Hmmm. Weirdly, the sergeant at arms also did not call the comment “bigoted” or “hateful” but merely “ignorant free speech.” And the identity of the staffer remains a mystery. So this is not over. If the staffer was a Pentagon employee, does the Pentagon still employ him? Could he be reassigned to another Senator? And why is his identity being kept secret?

It seems pretty clear that there is a lot more to this story than Chambliss is letting on. Surprise, surprise!

Hopefully, Sullivan and others’ curiosity will lead to more answers before we heap praise and honors on Chambliss.

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Zeke,

The AJC, Politico, and The Hill are all reporting that the staffer was fired. I personally have no “evidence”.

This isn’t about “positive stories” about conservative politicians. I’m not playing Culture War with this and deciding who to praise or condemn based on whose camp they are in. With all respect, you are the one doing that.

I’m reporting that Chambliss behaved honorably.

He took the slur/threat seriously and didn’t try and downplay it. He didn’t have “his office look into it” but turned it over to the Sergeant at Arms. He fired the culprit (and frankly, that was far more than I expected).

All of that would have been what I would have considered an appropriate response. But, Chambliss went further.

He sent out a press release with his office taking blame. He didn’t try and spin this to be “militant activists” or suggest that “the left is blowing it out of proportion”. He didn’t play politics as usual.

That surprised me. But the thing which impressed me was that he personally called Joe and offered his apology. That is rare enough (sadly) that it was worth notice.

Thirty years ago, EVERYONE from all sides would have done exactly the same. But this basic decency is rare among politicians (for heaven sake, we have one threatening a reporter this week). Sadly enough, this is worth notice.

justsearching is wrong. This is not what “any other Republican or Democrat” would do. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a politician behave like this.

And I am disappointed that some here have so bought into the Culture War, partisan game, hate anyone who disagrees mindset that we see a person being decent and our instinct is to think he is lying.

You, Zeke, in particular are far far smarter than that. I’m surprised you are taking this tack.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “Chambliss behaved honorably in this instance and it costs us nothing to recognize that fact.”.

Its one thing to say that and quite another to say he’s a man of honourable personal character. I consider it honourable to be a vegetarian and Hitler was a vegetarian but that certainly didn’t make him a man of honourable personal character.

Timothy Kincaid
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn (or should I say Godwin?),

Don’t read too much into those three words. I’m trying to distinguish between honorable personal character and his political character which is far from honorable.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Godwin would involve comparing him to Hitler, I’m not, just illustrating that one honourable act does not make an honourable person. You have to look at the sum total of a person’s actions to determine whether or not they reach the honourable bar – Chamblis most certainly does not.

Priya Lynn
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

And I’ll add that one’s personal character and one’s political character aren’t seperable. You can’t be of a dishonourable political character and of an honourable personal character. You’re suffering from cognitive dissonance.

Jim Burroway
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Joe Jervis, who took Sen. Chambliss’ call, accepted his apology and said he appreciated it. Given that Chambliss could have easily swept this under the rug and refused to investigate does say that this particular response was honorable. I see no reason not to acknowledge that. It doesn’t in any way detract from the rest of his record. I think Timothy made that point quite clear in his final paragraph.

By the way, for those who say that the only reason Timothy posted this is so that he could paint a conservative in a positive light, let me say that the only reason I didn’t write a very similar post is that Timothy beat me to it by just a few minutes.

TampaZeke
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, The Hill, Politico and AJC, by their own accounts ALL based their claim that Chambliss “fired” the staffer based on Chambliss’ statement that he “removed” the staffer. None of them based their claim on personal knowledge or reports from other staffers. None of them, as far as I can find, have reported knowing the identity of the staffer.

It’s possible that Chambliss did in fact terminate the staffer. We don’t yet have enough information to know and therefor declarations of honor should wait until we do.

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here but your comparing us to Maggie Gallagher and claiming, numerous times, that our doubts and demands for more information are “culture war” mentality is insulting. Perhaps I’m overreacting, perhaps my suspicions are wrong but, as I said earlier, Chambliss’ past words and actions cause me to be a bit less trusting of him than you are. That doesn’t make me a culture warrior or a Maggie Gallagher. I’m not even a Republican/conservative hater but I am less inclined to trust a person with a long and sordid anti-gay past.

B John
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

First, as a public employee, we as taxpayers are entitled to know who he was, and if he still in the employ of OUR government. That is not a matter of national security. If he had been fired, Chambliss’ office would have said so, rather than allow this line of thought to ramble on. There is little doubt left in my mind but that the person is drawing a salary paid my tax dollars, and has been quietly shuffled off to some other office.

As far as the question of “honor” goes, I never said that Chambliss’ act should not be acknowledge as the right thing to do, but definitions of honorable are “deserving of honor, of great renown, illustrious.” My original comment is that honor denotes some higher level of achievement than merely “passing.” I appreciate that Chambliss acknowledged the situation and took some action, but he didn’t act honorably. He merely behaved at the minimum level a civil person should act.

I’ll give him a C+/B-, but that an honor graduate does not make.

justsearching
October 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Hmmm… I can’t think of any scenario in recent years where a hateful calling-for-death slur has been 1. linked (with clear and abundant evidence) directly to a sitting Congressperson’s office 2. has been fairly widely publicized.

I’m only assuming that in such cases the Congressman involved would do his utmost to disassociate himself with that language. Just like Chambliss did. Or perhaps someone could tell me a case in recent years where a Congressman was confronted in such a situation and reacted in a dismissive way?

Tim says that “some have bought into the Culture War, partisan game, hate anyone who disagrees mindset that we see a person being decent and our instinct is to think he is lying.” I don’t hate him, I don’t hate Republicans as a rule, and I don’t think Chambliss is lying. I just think he is acting like a politician. He is acting in such a way that he thinks would put him in a positive light. If he really only cared about apologizing, and not about his public image, then why did he announce to the media that he had called Mr. Jervis personally?

Even if we grant that Chambliss’s actions were honorable and beyond the call of duty (an opinion I wouldn’t come to until I saw right-wingers attacking Chambliss for sucking up to the gays) I’m far less interested in his supposed honorable character and far more interested in his anti-gay views. He wants to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage and put in a definition of traditional marriage. And when talking about the repeal of DADT he said if we changed on the “issue” of allowing gays in, we’d have to consider changing on the issues of “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body art.” It’s these opinions that affect the law of the land, and not the content of a 2-minute telephone conversation.

Ben in Atlanta
October 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I guess I’m picking nits but Saxby Chambliss is a US Senator.

justsearching
October 2nd, 2010 | LINK

True. I mistakenly thought that Congressmen could refer to both US Representatives and US Senators and I was intending to refer to both, but you’re right, Congressmen refers only to US Representatives.

Brennin
October 3rd, 2010 | LINK

By way of contrast, Jervis posted a pic of the pope edited so as to make it look like he was giving a nazi salute when, in reality, he had bothy hands upraised during mass and has yet to apologize for or remove it. He also uses the term “Christianists,” which is equal parts vapid and offensive.

Jervis did not deserve an apology.

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