John Jay Hooker at BlogNashville

John Jay Hooker, a colorful figure in Tennessee politics, interjected during the Dave Winer session at BlogNashville and became an instant hit among bloggers. His most notable quote at the engagement was “You can’t call a son-of-a-bitch a son-of-a-bitch without calling him a son-of-a-bitch.”jjh.jpg

As told in his Web site profile, Hooker is a past candidate for Tennessee governor (’66), media empire broker, former fried chicken tycoon, and a person who has been influential in Democratic politics at the national level. Some of the men he’s counted as friends are Estes Kefauver, Robert Kennedy, Muhammad Ali, and Al Gore, Sr. He’s a larger-than-life guy – the very archetype of the white-haired Southern attorney with a billowing voice and loquacious speech. He’s 75 and going strong, as evidenced by his interest in blogging.

Chris Wage points to the John Jay Hooker Wikipedia entry, which recounts his rarefied lineage.

He was a descendant of the first Chief Justice of the United States and his namesake, John Jay, and also “Fighting Joe” Hooker, a Union general in the American Civil War whose camp-followers are said to have been the source of a well-known slang term for prostitutes which began as “Hooker’s girls”.

His Web site profile continues in that vein, noting that he’s the “grandchild of Henry Williamson, a signer of the Constitution of Tennessee (1870). His mother is Darthula Hooker June, a descendent of Tennessee Governor William Blount, who was a signer of the U.S. Constitution (1787) and President of the Constitutional Convention of Tennessee (1796).”

At the after hours get together at PM’s, Hooker arrived and sat down at the bar by himself. I invited him over to the table. (For some reason I feel compelled to note that while the rest of us were drinking, Hooker was not.) He’s extremely interested in blogging. One thing he wanted to know was whether there was an audience for in-depth discussions, and everyone assured him there was.

As an example of the in-depth discussions he wanted to have, he mentioned the current controversy over judicial filibusters. Hooker thinks one of the few mistakes the framers made in the Constitution is lifetime appointment for Federal judges. But that being as it is, he thinks judges should therefore be appointed by more than a majority. He also made a point about Senate rule changes that I confess I didn’t quite follow.

Melissa thought she had a family connection to Hooker, so after we left the bar she called her parents. It turns out Melissa’s maternal grandfather, Tom Henry, worked for Hooker’s gubernatorial campaign in 1966. He painted a bread truck with Hooker slogans, bolted speakers on the top, and drove between Knoxville and Nashville exhorting people over the loudspeaker to VOTE! for JOHN! JAY! HOOKER!

From bread trucks to blogs in four decades. How things do change in politics. Later that night Hooker joined some bloggers for one of the “Food for Thought” dinners. It just happened to be the one at Nashville’s Red Restaurant. Eric Janssen of Quixtar Blog was there and took pictures and notes. He writes, “It was a rather surreal moment that I was able to catch on camera – John Jay Hooker reading the U.S. Constitution to a couple of bloggers inside a gay bar.” 20th century, allow me to introduce the 21st century. 21st century, the 20th century.

6 Responses to John Jay Hooker at BlogNashville

  1. The Bloggin’ Life

    Les Jones went to BlogNashville and blogged the entire event (how fitting).

    What is so funny is that here I am in my very corporate-political-job across the street from the White House, as far removed from what was transpiring in Nashville (and wi…

  2. Tom says:

    Great Profile of John Jay. We spent the early evening with him and he is a very colorful Gentleman. Outstanding post.

  3. Eric Janssen says:

    FYI:

    I also talk for a bit about my evening with John Jay Hooker on my podcast which is at QBlogRadio.com.

    🙂

  4. Greg says:

    Les,

    Although I first came to Nashville in 1966, the same year John Jay made his first (he made three, I believe)gubernatorial run, Saturday was the first time I’d actually spoken to him, and shook his hand. Your description does him justice. I think an apt short description would be ‘perpetual candidate for (insert office here)’. I posted his now famous ‘son-of-a-bitch’ as BlogNashville Best Quote, then found out that Doug Petch had beat me by a couple of hours. Anyway, good commentary, thanks.

  5. W.W.J.J.H.D?

    Les Jones has a really nice profile post on John Jay Hooker, the legendary Tennessean who made had surprising presence at that unspeakable B***Nash***** conference. As a lifelong resident of the state I’d heard Hooker’s name countless times, but I…

  6. Simply I says:

    Dem Don John Jay Hooker Blogging

    Democratic don John Jay Hooker is blogging now. Hooker made quite a splash among BlogNashville participants….