I really try to stay away from commenting on things that aren’t pretty purely political in nature, but this Dan Jones thing has gotten to that point . . . for, it seems, the wrong reasons.
Lots has been made over the weekend about the College Board’s dismissal of Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones. Since I’m not an Ole Miss graduate, I would say that I’m just an interested observer, but don’t really have a stake in the discussion. I don’t know Dan Jones, but he certainly didn’t leave me with the impression that he was doing a bad job.
But if there’s a good crisis in Mississippi, you can bet there will be shrill conspiracy theories to try and take advantage of it if for no other reason to curry attention or pity.
First, let’s state the obvious. From a PR perspective, IHL mangled this deal with Jones badly. Committees of appointees can act that way sometimes. A Friday night announcement with no real set up or rationale offered added to ultimately a justification that just doesn’t pass the public smell test. I’m not saying that IHL wasn’t justified. I am saying that there doesn’t appear to be anything in the public at this point that would appear that they were. They just haven’t made a coherent case.
Shortly after, Ole Miss stalwarts like Jim Barksdale, Robert Khayat, John Grisham and Archie Manning piled on. Usually, for an institutional-changing decision, those are the sorts of people you want to touch prior to a move like this. You also have 8-figure donors talking about holding gifts if Jones is not reinstated. If all of them are mad about something, you can bet they’ll move the needle.
But then, the crazies started coming out thinking that they could land political points laying this decision on Republicans. In so doing, they run the real risk of turning the tide on what seems to be a wave of public support for Jones.
David Dallas at the Mississippi (non-profit) Business Journal came out with his own “fit-to-be-on-Xanax” take.
Democrats now hope Ole Miss alums and grads will take their anger over Dr. Dan’s dismissal out on the state’s Republican leadership.
Don’t bet on it, lofty-minded liberals. There are a whole host of Ole Miss fans and Bryant supporters who also hate “Obamacare.” Most of them never attended Ole Miss but yet they love her dearly. These loyal fans and voters love her for the old south traditions she has long promoted, like singing “Dixie,” waving the Rebel Flag, walking into buildings named for white supremacists… celebrating things like good manners, buckwheat cakes, and the virtues of the old plantation system.
Those folks are happy to see Obama-lover Dan Jones out. They eagerly wait for some Confederate-Hat-Wearing, “Backwards Rebel” to take the reigns of their dear Ole Miss. For them, the IHL decision is an answered prayer.
Talk about overreaching . . .
Not to be outdone, former Governor Ronnie Musgrove donned extra strength Reynolds Wrap for his tinfoil hat conspiracy, partially constructed by Cottonmouther and paid attack dog Ryan Brown, that ran in Huffington Post. In it, Ronnie/Ryan apparently lay the hands of the Jones decision at the feet of a vast Haley Barbour/Butler Snow conspiracy. No, I’m not kidding.
Dan Jones was standing at the gates of a gold mine, but he wasn’t a Butler Snow man. He wasn’t a Barbour or Bryant man. He was just a man who cared deeply about his state, felt passionately about education, and wanted to see his alma mater develop into a world-class institution. Or as he put it, he just “wanted to do the right thing.”
And for the Bryants and the Barbours and Butler Snow, caring more about the future of your state than the firm’s profits was absolutely unacceptable. So late on a Friday Afternoon, with everyone focused on NCAA’s March Madness, the Members of the Board of Higher Learning – all appointed by Barbour and Bryant – let Jones go.
Keeping in mind that Barbour politically beclowned Musgrove in 2003, it seems that he’s still not emotionally over that whoopin. But for Musgrove to be casting stones at Barbour for big money lawyerin’ is beyond hypocritical, even for Musgrove. Musgrove has channeled millions to his law firm via lucrative special litigation deals with the Mississippi Attorney General. At least he can salve his ego with millions of trial lawyer dollars.
Bless their hearts, if the goal is to get Dan Jones reinstated, which by the way there seems to be at least some bipartisan public sentiment to do, the worst thing that someone can do is to make it an elephants vs. donkeys issue (as there are more elephants than donkeys). As Mississippi Democrats, even though their natural instincts are to forcefully seize defeat from the jaws of victory, they really seem to be intent to overdo it in this instance. Keep in mind that the one most forcefully advocating for Jones’ ouster at this point is IHL Board Member, Jackson attorney Alan Perry (coincidentally not from the Butler Snow law firm), who is far from a fire-breathing Republican partisan.
Boys, just hide your crazy (just for a little while) and let this thing play out. It’ll work out better for you I promise.