Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chris Saxman: 'Lacey Putney -- Virginia Gentleman'

Delegate Lacey Putney has served in the Virginia House of Delegates longer than former Delegate  Chris Saxman has been alive. Yet the respect for the elder statesman is there in Chris' column as all take in the unexpected yet not surprising news of Putney's retirement from the House.

In "Lacey Putney -- Virginia Gentleman," the young gentleman shared some good memories about his time serving for almost a decade with the older gentleman from Bedford. Chris wrote:
Lacey is a model of the unbranded, gentlemanly conservatism that makes Virginia so exceptional. The essence of that conservatism, true conservatism, is grounded in two key elements – pragmatism and self-restraint. What works, works. What doesn’t, shouldn’t.
Lacey Putney was and is a model of Virginia gentlemanly conservatism because Lacey was and is, first and foremost, a gentleman.
As with anyone who has served for 52 years, time catches up and the reluctant decision is made to retire and spend those golden years with family and friends. Putney's morals from an earlier generation were evident after his wife passed away and he remarried about seven years later, as recounted by Chris:
“I feel like a teenager!” Lacey exclaimed with a gleam in his eye and a smile as broad as the James River. Then he softly explained, “Of course, when Carmela came to visit me in Bedfuhd, she had to stay across the street. We didn’t want people getting the wrong idea.”
Chris added, "Of course not."

Chris' respectful remembrance of a man who spent most of his life in the public service of Virginia's citizens (read his entire tribute here) is directly opposite that of the painfully shallow narrative written by Roanoke Tea Party leader Chris Tarbutton who titled his post, "52 years is plenty for Lacey Putney." He wrote:
I suppose that his crowning achievement, helping to pass the horrific transportation bill, should be his Coda as an elected official. Sad ending to a long career.
Tarbutton may have missed Wednesday's latest Quinnipiac poll that showed Governor Bob McDonnell's approval rating at 73 percent among Republicans, and that 64 percent of Virginians think the state is going in the right direction. Tarbutton is entitled to his opinion about Mr. Putney and the transportation bill, but he is outnumbered by more people who think it was the right thing to do.

Tarbutton went on to write about his disappointment in Robert Hurt's vote for then-Governor Mark Warner's huge budget increase, quipping that Mr. Putney defended Hurt. Tarbutton wrote:
Putney was one of the first politicians to give me the line that I have become increasingly sickened by…

“You just don’t know how hard that vote was…”
It is always easier to be the critic than the man in the arena. This could fall under the category of "walk a mile in his shoes."  Some have learned through experience and time that we can disagree without being disagreeable.

That has truly been the gift of a Virginia gentleman named Lacey Putney.

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