Political slugfest not necessary, not welcome

Published 10:09 pm Friday, March 26, 2010

Alabama rarely misses an opportunity to bungle its way into national headlines, but the recent bingo debacles have become difficult to watch unfold.

Currently, Mobile district attorney John Tyson rides roughshod over Gov. Bob Riley’s anti-gambling task force. He’s made many a recent headline with raids and on-again off-again closure of Victoryland, Whitehall and a handful of other bingo halls around the state.

New to the party comes Troy King, Alabama’s attorney general who claims to have seized control of the task force. The trouble comes in when Tyson won’t peacefully step aside.

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What has ensued is a smear campaign befitting election time, an arena where these two “gentlemen” know one another quite well. They firmly squared off against one another in the race for Alabama attorney general in 2006, a race that King narrowly won.

It would seem old habits die hard, and in this case, they fester.

This runs a lot deeper than the fight for justice, there’s a lot of showmanship here; a lot of “anything you can do I can do better” and a lot of “hey y’all, watch this.”

The problem for the rest of us lies in that while these to duke it out on the 6:00 news, no progress is being made. Does it really matter who the task force commander is? Both of these men are employees of the Alabama voters.

Would a joint effort to seek justice here not seem appropriate? These two men are on the same side, but are too busy fighting one another to see it. Whether or not gambling is legal or illegal is an afterthought in the power struggle that has ensued over a meaningless title. As this battle unfolds on CNN, Fox News and televisions and newspapers across the country, two men who have been elected – and who are being paid to improve the condition of Alabama — are doing little more than dragging the entire state into the mud with them.

To John Tyson and Troy King: It’s time to take off the gloves and roll up your sleeves.

To Bob Riley: Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler once said, “You’re always remembered by the last thing you do.” As the sun sets on a pretty good eight-year run, do you really want the stench of this mess be the last thing Alabamians remember about your tenure?