Time to unmask David Williams

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Column by Ben Sheroan, editor

By Ben Sheroan

It’s the Halloween season, which has morphed beyond its trick-or-treat candy collection roots into a leading celebration for people otherwise known as grownups.

For many, it’s a time to display their creativity in the form of a costume or alternate personality. It will be displayed in some business offices Wednesday and in countless home parties that evening.

When you realize that many of us disguise our true nature each day behind socially acceptable personality masks, it’s easy to understand the attraction of these Halloween fantasies.

Each day, we rehearse in the adult masquerade of expectations, presenting ourselves as professionals or at least as competent, mature individuals. Underneath the disguises, we often are hiding wounds built by insecurities or questions of confidence.

To truly understand each other, we have to see beyond the masks. Often that’s impossible. Instead we interpret their words and actions through the filter of our own disguise and apply our reasoning to their motives and come up with false impressions.

For some time, the actions of David L. Williams, the powerful state legislator, have confounded me.

He often has been portrayed as an uncooperative obstructionist bound on having his way at any cost, even the cost of seemingly unnecessary special legislative sessions.

But he also stood as the champion of conservative causes, seen by some as the brave protector of his point of view. Having the strength of character to stand on principle in the face of overwhelming odds is a very admirable trait.

Meeting Williams in person on multiple occasions during his recent run for governor, you find he’s not the one-dimensional legislative devil he’s often portrayed to be. He can be quite engaging and both compelling and convincing in his explanation of issues.

Like a lot of Hardin Countians, I was uncomfortable when he choose to make a campaign issue of the governor’s participation in a ground blessing ceremony for the India-based Flex Films plant in Elizabethtown. It was uncomfortable, unnecessary and ineffective.

It also made the stereotype of David Williams the bully seem real.

He’s leaving the Senate, which dramatically will change the dynamics in Frankfort. His political opponent and frequent legislative nemesis, Gov. Steve Beshear, expedited the exit by appointing Williams to complete the term of a judge who recently died.

Perhaps, like the rest of us, understanding David Williams, the state Senate president, is more complicated than it seems.

For example, talking to reporters after the judicial appointment, he declined to question the governor’s intentions in appointing him.

“My career here in Frankfort is over and I’m not going to meddle. I’m not going to criticize. I’m not going to try to back-seat drive,” he said. “It will not be appropriate.”

And his motives in desiring the judgeship may not be fully motivated by a desire for power.

“It gives an opportunity for me to do a career change and to do something to continue to serve the people ... and to be able to be home near my mother, who is advanced in years.”

When he takes off that scary Senate mask, could this man be just like the rest of us? Or are these latest comments just another disguise hiding a Halloween trick?

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.