Penry Loves the Snarky Comeback (1st Rule of Leadership Edition)

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

…According to an audio recording of a portion of the hearing posted on, [Sen. Shawn] Mitchell referred to a witness’ comment that he was nervous at the beginning of this testimony but indicated that the witness didn’t seem nervous.

“If any of those (witnesses) that follow are (nervous), I just want to pass on a tip that sometimes when I’m in committee and I’m nervous, I relieve that by imagining the chairwoman in her underwear,” Mitchell said.

The chairwoman of the committee is Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. The committee is charged with investigating alleged abuses by Pinnacol Assurance, the state’s workers’ compensation insurer.

Several people can be heard laughing at Mitchell’s comment. A woman presumed to be Carroll noted that Mitchell “got a laugh out of that.”

“I’ll try that next time, sir,” the witness said.

“I don’t recommend that,” Carroll replied.

In a prepared statement, former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler, a ProgressNow Colorado board member, chastised Mitchell for making a “sophomoric, suggestive comment” and said Penry “is either too weak or tone-deaf to get control of his caucus.”

Reached late Friday afternoon, Penry called Mitchell’s remark “an obviously inappropriate comment” and said Mitchell “should make it right” with Carroll.

“And since we’re in the business of asking people to apologize for the actions of others, I call on Ms. Schoettler to apologize for (Gov.) Bill Ritter’s massive car tax increase, his job-killing oil and gas rules, and for repealing the Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption,” Penry wrote in an e-mail.

A couple of observations:

1. As you can see, Senate Minority Leader/gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry doesn’t mince as many words this time–Mitchell’s comment was “obviously inappropriate.” We’re not quite sure what “make it right” means, presumably it means an apology. That’s what it probably should mean.

Seems to us that’s a very different response than Penry had to, for example, Dave Schultheis’ uber-creepy “It’s my hope that that person may have AIDS” remarks. As you know, Penry was roundly criticized for his inept response to extreme statements by members of his caucus during this year’s session. Might almost make you think he learned his lesson, until we get to

2. Penry seems to think that former Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler should apologize for a laundry list of Bill Ritter “misdeeds,” such as the FASTER bill for transportation funding, new oil and gas drilling protections, and being forced to cut the homestead exemption like Republicans did in 2003 during a much less severe downturn. We’re pretty sure you could argue those on the merits and still not approach the level of first-person disgust most people feel about sexual harrassment–but whatever.

Another more fundamental difference helps explain Penry’s problem: Bill Ritter is the Governor, and we don’t think there’s a position of “Governor Majority Leader” above the Governor–and if there is, Gail Schoettler doesn’t hold it. Josh Penry, on the other hand, is the Senate Minority Leader, meaning he’s the closest thing to oversight Shawn Mitchell has got. From Jim Welker to Michael Garcia to Doug Bruce, there are examples of legislative leadership policing their own when not doing so threatens to become a political liability.

But not Penry! He’s kind of annoyed he got called about this, and prefers a snarky comeback to acknowledging what most real leaders already know: in leadership, the buck stops with you.

50 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ralphie says:

    It’s a necessary skill for any politician, and Penry did a good job with it.

  2. Go Blue says:

    is nothing more or less than a drive by talk radio show pundit/politician. No substance. Just snark.

    Word of advice Josh. Grow up.  

  3. OneEyedOwl says:

    His detractors will view his statement as proof that he doesn’t have the maturity to hold the office of governor.

  4. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    (Gov.) Bill Ritter’s massive car tax increase, his job-killing oil and gas rules, and for repealing the Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption,”

    Ok, fair enough. A clear specific policy stand. So please tell us the other half – where do you fund these? Is it a tax increase you are proposing? Or if it’s different cuts, can you give us the specific cuts?

  5. Littletonian says:

    Kudos to Pols for mentioning Douglas Bruce in their list of properly-policed rogue legislators. While I’d expect little less from any competent leader, I was grateful for Leader May’s genuine and well-executed efforts to distance his caucus from Bruce – both his wacky outbursts and his bogus policy positions.

    Of course, shortly after Bruce’s appointment, it became clear that he would be nothing more than a source of embarrassment to the Republican legislative caucuses. Unfortunately, Senator Penry didn’t seem to view the comments made by Schultheis or Renfroe as potentially embarrassing. Instead, he seemed more concerned with policing the “embarrassing” actions of Senator White and Representative Marostica, when those two dared to lift a toe out of line.

  6. Ellie says:

    Penry is good with the :30 sec. sound bite but not the snarky comebacks.  Wadhams has his man as campaign manager and you can bet Wadhams is helping develop all messages including this one.

    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

      at your peril. Read the lengthy interview with Penry in this week’s Statesman, and then compare it with the defensiveness verging on incoherence we get from McInnis and the mild-mannered, “let’s not offend anyone” nice guy approach of Bill Ritter. I think it’s really a mistake to miss how good Penry has gotten at articulating his message (whether you agree with it or not).

      • gertie97 says:

        He’s very good (as all good politicians are) at going on at length without any substance at all. I’ve heard him speak on a number of occasions.

        Penry rails about the legislature “not making the hard choices.” He neglects to mentioned what choices he’d make.

        He rails about oil & gas regs costing jobs, and conveniently avoids the nosediving price of natural gas.

        He says taxes are too high, but says nothing about how state government should be run without revenue.

        He doesn’t like paroling people early. Fine. Where’s the money to keep them locked up? Same with the Regional Center in Grand Junction. To keep what open, what would you cut elsewhere?

        Saying you’d take a hard look at all areas of the budget, starting withe the governor’s office, is a good notion. Hardly new. You’ve been in the legislature for five years, Josh. Why haven’t you looked at this before and proposed concrete cuts?

        When he gets some kind of coherent message and not just rhetoric, I’ll be waiting to hear it.

        But snark? He’s very good. Shows promise, that boy.

        • WesternSlopeThought says:

          is like watching a Lloyd and Croft sitcom.  It is so dumb, you just have to laugh.

          “Duh,” said Penry, who is the minority leader for the GOP in the state Senate”  -Charles Ashby

        • Ralphie says:

          The price of gas is complicated.

          The rules are simple.

          Which argument do you feel is going to be grasped by the people?

          • gertie97 says:

            You’re right on that. But the few oil and gas counties in the state, with the exception of Las Animas, are Republican voters anyway.

            Plus, the price of gas isn’t that complicated if Ritter can figure out how to communicate it.

            Boom: $13+ (free market)

            Bust: $2.50 (free market)

            I’m not blowing Penry off. He’s fearless, filled with bullshit, glib and confident past the point of arrogance. Just the thing the faithful want.

            We will see. It’ll be fun to watch.

            • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

              He’s fearless, filled with bullshit, glib and confident past the point of arrogance.

              And those characteristics, I believe, will be his downfall. Those of us who live in Penryville (even though our Prince has left us to usurp the throne) know him very well. He has bought the Rove/Wadhams philosophy that the electorate is a brainless block of clay for them to mold. That hyper-arrogance will not serve them much longer.  

              • gertie97 says:

                He’s from Mesa County, the prime example of an electorate that votes again and again against its own self-interest.

                What he’ll find out, though, is that most of the rest of the state (alas, not all) doesn’t think that way.

  7. Ralphie says:

    He’s running against an incumbent.  His job is to knock down the incumbent.  He deflected Schoettler’s criticism and got right back on message.

    I don’t agree with Penry, just saying he did that very artfully.

  8. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    If you’re willing to overlook that logically, his response is evasive crapola unbefitting a official in a leadership role – which Penry allegedly is.

  9. RedGreenRedGreen says:

    What’s evasive? He answered the question and then made another point. Whether it makes any sense to try to hold Schoettler to account for Ritter’s actions — good question. But there’s nothing evasive about what Penry said.

  10. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    It was a resonable and totally fair response. If he didn’t use it as a chance to ping Ritter then he would be a poor candidate.

  11. ClubTwitty says:

    first or last.  It’s up to the individuals how they want to ID themselves. Right? Everyone agree?

    But overall, the thread is a bit silly…

  12. RedGreenRedGreen says:

    So it’d be OK if he made the statements in two separate e-mails?

    Take a breath, Belle. It’s Labor Day Weekend, not Belabored Day Weekend.

  13. Ralphie says:

    Because you don’t understand the game.

  14. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Most people are not going to pay much attention to politics. They have a lot going on in their lives and so they have to make decisions based on short amounts of information.

    This makes one of the major jobs of a politician during an election to distill the differences between themselves and their opponent into short easy to understand tidbits. And comments like Penry’s do exactly that.

    And yes, each politician will put themselves in the best light and their opponent in the worst light – that’s called differentiating.

    Penry did what he’s supposed to do, and he did it well. Pols fired back as we Dems are supposed to do. And in this case it ends slight advantage Penry.

  15. RedGreenRedGreen says:

    You really don’t get it. I thought we were talking about Penry’s political rhetoric, and contrasting it, in this case, with your utter lack of a sense of humor or perspective.

    My point was that Penry isn’t debasing the polity, but, rather, talking the way human beings do in a way human beings understand. Getting a dig in at your opponent while admonishing one of your own — this is hardly the mark of 2009-era decline, it has always been thus.

    Frankly, I don’t have a problem with the way Penry formulated his statement, though I can vehemently disagree with his conclusion. That’s called debate, and what Penry said encourages it.

    On the other hand, paranoid ravings that assume a personal attack when none exists — my position is, this kind of rhetoric doesn’t work very well, for the polity or otherwise.

    You think it’s a good idea to “openly disdain” Penry’s tactics. I think it’s a better idea to “openly disdain” yours. Let’s keep this an argument about political rhetoric and leave the persecution complexes at the door.

  16. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Bellerophon – the human race does not operate the way you want it to. Politicians work with people they way they are. If you want to change human nature – start a religion.

  17. Laughing Boy says:

    Why are you bothering to post under a different name?

    Not trying to out you, but just quit.  It’s demeaning.

    What, are your constituents going to be surprised that you’re a leftie, verbose to a fault?

  18. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    That when everyone disagrees with you, generally you should consider that your opinion of what makes sense is probably wrong. Yes sometimes the lone voice in the wilderness is right – but that is very very rare.

  19. Laughing Boy says:

    Is another man’s tedium. Why lie?

  20. Middle of the Road says:

    You see, you would have a point if you hadn’t originally posted under your real name. I’m pretty sure “Laughing Boy” isn’t LB’s real name.

    You posted under your real name, bored us all under your real name, and announced your candidacy under your real name.

    Try outing LB (who has never revealed his real name on this blog) and see how long you are allowed to continue posting here. Just the fact that you threatened him speaks volumes about what kind of a “progressive” you really are. I pity the voters in your district. I pity them for having you as their choice on the Democratic ticket. Maybe your county chairman of the Democratic Party and some of the other folks that hold positions on your county board need to get a head’s up about your behavior here. And unlike you, I’m not threatening. I am fucking well telling you flat out that if you keep this crap up, that’s the next move I’m making.  

  21. Ralphie says:

    He’s smarter than everyone else.  Just ask him.

    The real tragedy is, he’d probably make a good legislator.  He just can’t put aside his “I’m smarter than everyone else” attitude long enough to get elected.

    A year from this November, he’ll be another also-ran.

  22. RedGreenRedGreen says:

    Well don’t that beat all. I’m flattered to have made your enemies’ list — for, as I recall, once saying “oh yeah, that blogger sounds familiar,” and thereafter earning snarling, persecuted responses every time I disagreed with something your various personae enscribed — but I thought you were someone else.

    That alarming level of condescension and defensiveness could only have been 1) Sirota or 2) an elaborate, pitch-perfect parody. Little did I know it was the real thing.

    You know, my grandpa sees wondrous colors none of the rest of us can see. He enjoys exquisite pleasures, but they won’t let him drive and he can’t be trusted to feed himself. I’m glad his twilight years are marvelous for him, because, so often, it can turn out otherwise.

  23. Laughing Boy says:

    Just post as yourself.  It’s no big deal.

  24. Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

    who knows neither of you, I would like to say I would be disappointed if “Bellerophon” stopped posting here. I enjoy reading his lengthy dissertations because I almost invariably find knowledge and food for thought and frequently agree with his positions. But, I equally enjoy the snarkiness of RedGreen and his/her insight on a wide variety of subjects.

    I spent a lot of time hanging around the GJDS Community site (home town paper, don’t you know) and I much prefer the “edginess” of this discourse to the “milquetoast” quality of that site. All you have to do to be censored by the ghosts in that machine is to have a sense of humor and a vocabulary. The place is a “snark free zone”.

    So, if I may be so presumptuous, I would like to ask you two to bury the hatchet for the benefit of the many?


  25. Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

    Is this all cool then? We’re ready to start deleting comments if it’s not, but some parts of this exchange fall a little outside our policy.

    With a reminder: don’t “out” people on this blog, it is never acceptable and will be dealt with severely. May not be quite what happened in this case, but please be mindful as it’s one of very few rules we enforce.

  26. Steve Harvey says:

    everything’s cool as far as I’m concerned.

  27. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Outing someone should be grounds for immediate deletion of comments.

    And for the person doing so, I’d say in this case it was somewhat inadvertant as we all knew who Bellerophon had to be based on the writing, and they only used his first name. But still it should be a single warning at most and then deletion.

    There is blow-back for posters if they are identified – believe me I know because I get it quite a bit.

  28. Ralphie says:

    Bellerophon outed himself, too, with a link to his web site.

  29. Laughing Boy says:

    I really didn’t mean to make a problem out of it, but I thought he kind of outed himself, and he posted under his own name here, anyway.

    My bad, though.

  30. Ralphie says:

    And since I use my own first name as my user name, I don’t really consider that “outing.”

  31. Laughing Boy says:

    Well, I’m sorry. I mean it.  

  32. sxp151 says:

    I remember doing this:

    which used your first name. I immediately regretted doing it, and you might have noticed that at no point did I ever mention anything about it again, but one can’t delete one’s own comments here. I’m sorry for doing it.

    But I don’t know what you’re talking about as far as Another Skeptic goes. I haven’t the slightest idea who he is.

  33. Ralphie says:

    And look at the time on the one that actually outed you.

    Never mind I’ll do it for you.  

    First one, Friday Open Thread: Sat Sep 05, 2009 at 11:10:55 AM MDT

    Mine, this thread: Sat Sep 05, 2009 at 20:30:09 PM MDT

    More than nine hours later.

    Whine at the other guy.

  34. Steve Harvey says:

    That was my initial assumption, but then, remembering some other interactions, I began to have doubts.

    I might have been wrong about who outed AS: It happened just as I was coming back on to the blog after a year or more of not posting, some time ago. If so, I apologize.

  35. sxp151 says:

    I was really just making that up. The debate he was having had nothing to do with evolution, but Skeptic was asking things that reminded me a lot of a hilarious evolution debate I’d read on Conservapedia. I thought it would be cute if “AS = AS,” but I never had any reason aside from cuteness to think it was correct. If you think it was, I’ll email Pols and ask them to remove my comment.

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