Why Resolve Anything Quietly When Sensational Rhetoric Gets You on The Teevee?


By Tom Prezelski

Cross-posted from Rum, Romanism and Rebellion.

Senator Carl Hayden famously said that elected officials were either
show horses or work horses. If you want to get your name in the papers,
you should be a show horse. If you wanted to actually get things done,
you should be a work horse instead.

Because of the traumatic events of the past week, a few stories have
slipped past our attention. In the case of one story, this was the way
it should have been all along.

Tom-hornThis week, scandal-plagued Republican Attorney General Tom Horne called for a sit-down with city attorneys from across the state to discuss the limits of what local governments could do with regard to civil unions. This is in response to the Bisbee Crisis. In fairness, even folks in Bisbee have admitted that their sweeping ordinance may have gone a bit too far and they are revisiting some of its more problematic provisions.

Under normal circumstances, Horne would deserve praise for his
efforts to resolve this question amicably. However, this came only after
he linked hands with Cathi Herrod of the professionally prudish
right-wing Center for Arizona Policy and went to the press with a pointed threat to sue the former Queen of the Copper Camps.
Rather than finding a solution, Herrod and Horne’s rhetoric seemed
calculated to intimidate and generally foment ill feeling across the
state. At the same time, it got Horne’s face on television and helped assure a critical constituency of frightened bigots that the troubled Attorney General was on their side.

Now that he got what he wanted and the life-cycle of the controversy
has run its course, Horne has decided to actually do his job and govern.
In the process, he has elevated Cathi Herrod and given some of our
state’s haters fifteen minutes of fame, but the potential long-term
damage this could do is not his concern. Governing does not get your
name in the paper, but strident rhetoric does, and this is all that
really matters.

This is pretty much all one needs to know about Horne’s entire career.


  1. Thane, you either did not read my post or have not been following this story. Horne and Herrod did not ask to sit down with folks in Bisbee to address specific problems with the ordinance. They threatened to sue. I think their intent to intimidate was obvious.

    As for the Center for Arizona Policy, they speak for a fairly small constituency and their power is due entirely to supposedly reasonable people like Tom Horne allowing them to control the agenda. If he ignored them, they would go away, but instead he has chosen the easy route and allowed the public discussion to get ugly. Maybe you think this is harmless fun, but I think most of this blog’s readers, particularly Mexican-Americans and gays who have been the targets of Horne’s rhetoric, would disagree.

    The pedantic link you sent seems to have nothing to do with the subject. Did you mean to send me something else?

  2. So Bisbee was in the wrong and Tom Horne was in the right but he wasn’t in the right because Cathi Herrod’s group gets some coverage. I think that the people of Arizona can manage to make do after the news gives a slice of coverage to the Center for Arizona Policy. This all shows how government officials and issue advocates should spend a little time studying unintended consequences.