Is Rep. Whitfield on the wrong side of history?
(Murray, KY, March 17, 2012) - Lost within the glamour of the 2012 Purchase & Lakes Lincoln Reagan Dinner at the Murray State University Curris Center was the fact hardly anyone noticed the frail looking senior citizen at the forward table next to the speaker’s podium.
The ballroom noise of laughter, greetings, drinks and food being offered masked the very quiet sighs of this old southern face. A name that belonged to this individual was Edward Whitfield. He is a 17 year congressman from Kentucky’s 1st Congressional seat, having beaten Carroll Hubbard in 1995.
At this moment, the latest and newest star within the GOP, Senator Rand Paul, was also quietly standing in the back of the ballroom. However, the difference in body language and geo-political positing was astounding.
Senator Paul’s staff had him located just inside the entrance to the ballroom and in great position to greet all who wanted to attend the evening’s event. Young, old, powerful, those who wanted to be powerful, all had their photographs made with the new senator.
Meanwhile, few noticed the arrival of the congressman. A zone of silence had been evoked around him, From afar, it seemed that he was a man who desperately wanted to be somewhere else.
If a neutral observer had to contrast between the two Kentucky members of Congress present that evening, I suspect it would be something like this: Whitfield was the geographical pole for the very established status quo. Old money and power back him at every turn of his re elections. Primarily global oil and energy corporations paid for his presence in the halls of Congress. But such power shies away from large public gatherings like the event in Murray, Kentucky.
Paul’s geopolitical pole of reference was that of high personal energy laid over a platform to reform Congress. If, at times, there was a moment of discomfort about Paul, it probably came from his intense desire to tell all who would listen around him of the need to stop the madness in Washington DC and make our government work.
Before any food was to be served on this night, the two forces of the universe had already taken their position with in the room. Whitfield locked down the pole of negative force which stood as an indirect contrast with Paul and his pole of positive energy.
Against this reality of the laws of the universe, played out another more personal story of high drama and personal tragedy. After 17 years in Washington, Whitfield seems a man held captive by his past and not his future. Every public action that he takes is locked in the fortunes of big oil, big energy and big corporations.
Years ago, I saw the same facial features that signaled the message, “I’ve been here too long and have lost touch with the voters,” in Frank Stubblefield’s face right before Carroll Hubbard took him down. This same look of masking his Washington insider position was on Dee Huddleston’s face right before Mitch McConnell took him down. And on this night, that far away look had been painted on Whitfield’s face.
Whitfield is in no danger of losing his seat in Congress. He has beaten back all challengers over the years because he is what West Kentucky will settle for. Whitfield is the face of extreme status quo and disdain for any progressive change.
Whitfield’s tragedy is that he is now on the wrong side of history. The flow of disruptive technology and politics are not kind to those who lose, or as in the case of Whitfield, just fade away, to become just a footnote in the pages of history.