Monday, January 19, 2009

My Morning Wooten


One day, I will tell you all my thoughts on Jim Wooten. Like many things in the south, they are filled with darkness and loathing but will probably be proceeded by the phrase "bless his heart". ~griftdrift, 7-5-06

Many years ago, I sat in the Alliance Theater's small studio space attending a performance of a strange little play about incest, molestation and learning to drive. Before the house lights dimmed, I noticed a distinguished looking man sitting in the row just ahead. It was not an event where one would expect to see the conservative voice of the Atlanta Journal.

Bless his heart, Jim Wooten is a complicated man. Complicated is a southern term used when we can't decide if a fellow is the smartest man in the room or the craziest.

In the days before the afternoon Journal was absorbed by its liberal morning counterpart, Jim along with his mentor Durwood McAlister, held the conservative line. Their articles were not only counterpoints to the Cynthia Tuckers and Maureen Downeys but also to the rapidly rising shrill voices of talk radio. Common sense conservative born decades earlier was carried on in those pages.

Despite the desire of conservatism, time moves on and even the staid changes. McAlister retired, the afternoon daily disappeared and Jim moved across the hall.

Whether it was the emergence of the Rovian philosophy of the winner rules absolutely or a need to distinguish completely from the voices of the left or a final unfettering of real personality, Jim also changed.

Although the title remained "Common Sense Conservatism", the content slowly morphed to mirror the screed merchants of the day. Rumor, innuendo and talking points replaced subtlety and serious thought.

Whispers of the old Jim sometimes emerged - usually when speaking of monetary things or the inevitable passage of old friends.

Now he has one foot out the door, but the weekly column will continue and I will continue to give him a poke - mostly because he deserves it but partly because I believe somewhere beneath that shock of white hair still lays the mind that once upon a time laughed appropriately and winced appropriately at actors on a stage speaking of things most dark and twisted.

Perhaps, one day when I am also longer in the tooth, Jim and I can sit on the porch, drink lemonade and natter on about the things two old farm boys natter on about. We might even talk about being complicated.

3 comments:

andisheh said...

My mourning Wooten.

Jerry said...

I choose to believe that he recognizes that he has failed to use his position of privilege to advance the human condition, and so is retreating to the muddy trenches like the rest of us cannon-fodder.

rptrcub said...

I can't wait to see who he's replaced with, and how the conserva-tariat just says that he/she is just a tool for the evil libruhl AJC. Like a right-wing version of Alan Colmes.