Former Georgia Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson's case is a sad one, and I hope he gets help.
But, as Georgia heads into an election season that basically boils down to Republicans versus Democrats, it's entirely appropriate to question the wisdom of a party that, for the last several years, had a philandering and eventually suicidal man as one of its top leaders.
It's pretty obvious the speaker had an affair with a lobbyist. He acknowledges battling depression. He clearly got preferential treatment from the courts during his divorce. He played it fast and loose with campaign money. His ex-wife says he repeatedly harassed her and threatened to use the power of his office against her. She says he threatened suicide in an attempt to control her.
His ex-girlfriend tells much the same story.
In the wake of the speaker's resignation, there were plenty of insider lobbyists with an I suspected it all along story based on the speaker's behavior at some political function where, of course, alcohol was served. But even an initial suicide attempt wasn't enough for Republican leaders to remove Speaker Richardson from power. His ex-wife basically had to go on television and tell people he wasn't fit for office.
Over the years, most of us have seen friends in trouble. The warning sings are there. So where was the rest of the Republican Party's leadership through all this? Were they blind, or did they just turn a blind eye?
New Speaker David Ralston was one of a few GOP House members to stand up to Richardson before Susan Richardson forced the rest of them to. And, once that happened, we heard excuses.
We were afraid, GOP House members said. He would have punished us. We thought he could handle it.
That is essentially the opposite of leadership.
Now, how much of this should reflect on Nathan Deal? That's hard to say. But he's the Republican candidate for governor. He was Speaker Richardson's choice in the Republican primary. And, if the GOP mantra in this election is going to be that we can't afford a return to the horrors of a Roy Barnes governorship, isn't it fair to compare the Barnes administration to the way the GOP has managed Georgia for the last 8 years?
Because an awful lot of that management was carried out by a disturbed powder keg of a man who was backed by politicians afraid, or otherwise unwilling, to say anything about it.
If we're going to see pictures of Roy Barnes with John Edwards, isn't it fair to point out that Glenn Richardson remains one of Nathan Deal's political allies?
Or does a man attempting suicide negate all of that, because compassion and pragmatism are somehow incompatible?
The bad things already happened. Talking about them is not going to make Glenn Richardson's life worse, but it might make Georgia's future better.