The debate, actually. I did not watch the goober or assistant goober debate. Both were formalities, the former because the outcome of the election is assured, and the latter because the outcome of the election does not matter. I did, though, watch the AG debate. It looks like all the non-partisan Alabama bloggers think Tyson won, and I agree with them. You can follow that link for a roundup of opinions, I’ll add a few thoughts here.
First, my jaw dropped when King criticized Tyson for entering plea bargains with defendants. As a criminal defense attorney and civil libertarian, I would absolutely wholeheartedly rejoice if the state of Alabama suddenly decided that there would be no more plea bargains. If the state had to empanel a jury for every single arrest made in this state, the entire criminal justice system would explode. There is no way the current system could handle the exponential increase in costs that would result from mandating full blown trials for every arrest. The only options would be spending an ENORMOUS amount of money to build new courthouses, hire thousands of new employees, and pay hundreds of new judges, or else drastically cutting back on the number of arrests. Given the costs of the first option, the second is the likely result. Some way to fight crime there Troy.
Second, what I really like about Tyson is he doesn’t suffer from the same simplistic thought processes that King does. Last night King continued his attack on Tyson’s early intervention programs. In King’s mind, identifying kids who might end up as criminal defendants and trying to help them avoid that fate is being soft on crime. But it isn’t. As Tyson recognizes, and as he explained last night, it’s being smart on crime. Implementing these kinds of programs certainly does not mean that those who do commit crimes will get away with their misdeeds; it means there will be less people committing crimes in the first place.
I don’t like Troy King. I think he’s an ideologue. I think he’s a simpleton. I think he’s a grandstanding fool. I think he’s petty minded and irresponsible. I think he’s an embarrassment to Alabama and the practice of law. Go put “Troy King” into the search box on the side bar and you’ll find the reasons for these thoughts. Nothing in last night’s debate changed my attitude about him.
So what about Tyson? He did not say anything new last night, but there was no need for him to make a spectacular showing. I would probably vote for anyone with a pulse rather than Troy King. Nevertheless, I think Tyson does have some good ideas and would make a fine AG. I like the idea of early interventions. His guarded answer to the death penalty question makes me think he will approach the issue with the seriousness it deserves. His practical experience, I hope, will lead him to focus on the day to day issues of the job and avoid King’s sorry use of the office as a soapbox for various culture war issues. Tyson just seems like a much more level headed and reasonable person. IMHO, right now he is the best choice for AG.
Updates: Jeff has the full roundup of blogger and newspaper coverage. He doesn’t include me. Probably because I hinted that partisan loyalties had something to do with him saying King won the AG debate. Others have pointed out that Jeff watched the debate at Shelby County’s Repub HQ, and is also, like King, a Troy alumni. To be fair, he defends his choice on style grounds, saying King looked more polished. King is certainly the professional politician, so Jeff has a good argument there.
Hands down, the best summary of the debates is here. An excerpt:
“TROY KING”: I will lobby for a law making it legal to hunt homosexuals for sport.
JOHN TYSON: My opponent was appointed by Bob Riley as some kind of obscure joke.
“KING”: I get an erection every time someone is sentenced to death.
TYSON: I’m not going to say anything, I’m just going to let him talk.
“KING”: We need toughnewlaws making it harder for vampires to stalk our children.