Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles moderated political speaking with a heavily partisan hand.
Fancy Farm Picnic Political Speaking 2018 is now in the rear view mirror. It is an axiom of getting on the platform and spending five minutes being heckled or applauded that one can do little to help oneself. But one can do much to hurt oneself.
Just ask Jack Conway. His expletive deleted remarks, made in front of the Bishop no less, damaged his reputation and his campaign. Trying to be a tough guy using tough language turned out to be the wrong words in the wrong place and the wrong time. Sadly for Conway, he was ahead of his time. The shocking words he used then have made their way onto the evening news where they elicit no comment.
A few years ago, then Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo mistakenly put New Testament Jesus in an Old Testament setting. One doesn't have to go far to find biblical scholars in Western Kentucky. Stumbo's gaffe, while not career ending, didn't expand his base in this area.
This year, the What Was He Thinking? Award has to go to Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. The young and well educated Quarles served as this year's political speaking moderator. Instead of being the reach across the aisle, work to get things done, commissioner we know here in the Purchase, Quarles auditioned for the job of right wing attack dog.
Quarles worked with Secretary of State Alison Grimes on a food insecurity program which was rolled out jointly by the two up and coming elected officials at a Purchase Area Development District meeting a couple of years ago. Hunger has no red and no blue. Grimes and Quarles committed to work to get food from farms to tables.
Quarles has worked with county judges in the region on agriculture issues. Support of hemp has been a big part of his tenure as commissioner. Opening farmers' markets has accelerated on his watch. Quarles Named Friend of Hemp
So, choosing to use terms like "fake media" to please one segment of the audience was a mistake that should haunt him in the future.
Mispronouncing a woman candidate's name, then referring to her by her first name and her opponent by his title irritated women in the audience. If he knew that was sexist and dismissive, that was bad. If he didn't know it was sexist and dismissive, it was worse.
Serving as moderator at the Fancy Farm Political Stump Speak is an exercise in restraint. One can be partisan - but not too partisan. One can be funny - but not at the expense of only one side of your audience.
The best moderators of the past knew their job was not to stir up partisan passions but to temper it with good manners. That's not what the 2018 moderator did.
What was he thinking?
Whatever it was, it wasn't the smart, concerned public servant we thought we knew.