published Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith not always unwilling to apologize


by Chris Carroll
Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith
Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

THE JOKE

Follow for a happy life:

1) It's important to have a woman who helps at home, cooks from time to time, cleans up, and has a job.

2) It's important to have a woman who can make you laugh.

3) It's important to have a woman who you can trust, and doesn't lie to you.

4) It's important to have a woman who is good in bed, and likes to be with you.

5) It's very, very important that these four women do not know each other or you could end up dead like me.

Poll
Should Paul Smith apologize for the joke?

Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith won't apologize to his own party over a sexist joke he put on a board meeting agenda, but he quickly said sorry when his second-in-command slammed some Republicans earlier this year.

In January, Smith dashed off a remorseful letter to Chattanoogan.com after party Vice Chairman Rodney Strong came up with nicknames for the Republican candidates in the 3rd Congressional District race, dubbing U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann as "Do-Nothing Chuck," Weston Wamp as "Little Prince Wamp" and Scottie Mayfield as "The Milkman" at a county party meeting.

Wamp is the 25-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, and Mayfield makes his living as a dairy executive.

Four days after Strong spoke, Smith wrote: "On behalf of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, I would like to express our apologies to those who were offended by comments made recently in our executive committee meeting. Civility in public discourse, though admittedly difficult to find in the rough-and-tumble world of American politics, is absolutely something to strive for."

Smith has refused to apologize after his own actions struck a negative chord internally. He recently described those he offended within his own party as "troublemakers" after printing an off-color joke about women on a county party business agenda.

"It's clear Paul is comfortable throwing someone else under the bus and apologizing on their behalf, but not capable of seeing his own faults and acknowledging it," said Chris Anderson, a Chattanooga City Council candidate and a Democratic executive committee member.

The joke has generated a backlash against Smith, including calls for his resignation and a boycott of the county party's annual fundraiser.

"I don't know why he would apologize for something Rodney said," said Charline Kilpatrick, an executive committee member. "I wish he would say he's sorry for his joke, but I don't know what's going through his head."

Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

Signal Mountain resident Sandy Lusk, a longtime Democratic activist and state executive committee member, said the uproar over the joke is overblown and the result of internal political strife.

"I know Paul did not intend to offend women," she said. "He has a long record of supporting women and women candidates. I feel this whole thing's a sabotage by certain members of the party."

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6610.

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