This is the transcript of the premeditated Ralph Rant delivered by Ralph Bristol, Host of Nashville’s Morning News, 99.7 WTN, at 6:35 am on Thursday, February 9, 2017.
Davidson County, Tennessee Sheriff Daron Hall has skillfully, productively and reasonably navigated some pretty challenging immigration waters in the last 10 years, from the time he first enthusiastically embraced, and then dropped, the federal government’s 287(g) program to help local law enforcement aggressively pursue illegal immigrants for deportation.
When Hall launched the 287(g) program in 2007, on the exact same day I started broadcasting on 99.7 WTN, George W. Bush was President and the political climate was decidedly against illegal immigrants, perhaps especially in middle Tennessee.
Since then, Sheriff Hall has adjusted his department policies and maintained good ties with, first the (then) new Obama administration in 2009, and after that, an increasingly liberal Democrat city government that became more protective of illegal immigrants. He didn’t quit cooperating with the Feds, like sanctuary sheriffs in other liberal cities have done, but he backed off of the more aggressive posture of a decade ago.
Fast forward to 2017 and the new Trump administration, whose policies renew some of the previous federal aggression against illegal immigration, pitted against a more liberal, antagonistic Nashville city government determined to oppose the new Trump policies “tooth and nail” as mandated by the Chuck Schumer designed anti-Trump Democrat playbook.
Sheriff Hall is caught in the middle – all the while negotiating with the anti-Trump Nashville city government over a major capital item – geographically moving his department.
And, if that were not enough, he’s up for re-election next year.
That can be a lot of flaming chain saws to keep in the air, and an occasional fumble is understandable.
That said, Hall’s decision to decline an invitation to meet with President Trump, along with other invited Sheriffs, while in Washington D.C for the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Conference, because he thought his participation might misidentify him as being a Trump immigration policy cheerleader, was a serious unforced error, in my humble opinion.
Wiser counsel might have advised Sheriff Hall to accept the invitation from the President of the United States of America, knowing the conversation among the President and the other specially invited sheriffs would not be one way, that he would have a unique opportunity to explain any disagreement with the President directly to the President, and that all of the media would be interested in hearing what he said to the President (especially if what he said disagreed with the President), and even though he would be included in the “class picture,” he would not only not be mistaken for a cheerleader, but would be exalted by the press for offering opposing counsel to the President – and maybe, just maybe – even respected and rewarded by the President for his contribution to the debate.
If Sheriff Hall heard and rejected that counsel, I’m very curious why. If he did not, I’m very curious why.
I have never questioned Sheriff Hall’s political or ethical motivation, nor his unique portfolio of personal qualities and professional skills that have allowed him to productively serve an important law enforcement role in Nashville for a long time, and I don’t question any of that now.
But I strongly question his judgment this time. If he takes only his own counsel, I would suggest he consider adding some version of a devil’s advocate to his circle of friends. I’m happy to volunteer, as long as he doesn’t call after my bed-time.
Finally, I believe Sheriff Hall can, and should, recover this fumble, and I hope he will give me the opportunity to discuss that with him.