Bad staff work

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One of the earliest lessons you learn in Washington, D.C. is this: When a decision — or series of decisions — proves foolish, blame it on the staff.  “Bad staff work” is Beltway code for what tennis players call an unforced error.

Ronnie Floyd is having a week of bad staff work.

For starters, the communications team seems to have a difficult time understanding how to take screenshots. In a series of tweets and stories on Baptist Press, they have been routinely using candid photos that show Ronnie with his eyes closed, mouth open, looking like he’s about to sneeze.

We ALL have photos like this. It happens when the cameras are rolling and the subject is not thinking about a photo shoot, but rather the work he is doing, speech he is making, etc. At such moments, staff are supposed to curate ONLY the pictures that look good. You DON’T post the booger shots of your boss. Ever.

This is the sort of thing they teach at Howard Payne to sorority girls pursuing communications majors.

Second, somebody thought it was a good idea for Ronnie Floyd to welcome the now-disgraced former president of Southwestern Seminary back to his inner circle. Yesterday in Nashville, the Executive Committee president hosted a conference call with his most trusted counselors.

Paige Patterson was on that call and has apparently been giving strategic advice to Ronnie Floyd.

Which can only mean staff did not inform Dr. Floyd that Patterson is presently litigating a federal civil suit that names Southwestern Seminary as a defendant. They also didn’t tell him that part of SWBTS’s defense is that Patterson acted outside his responsibilities in violation of the seminary’s core values. Or that his ongoing communications with Patterson could become the subject of legal inquiries.

Of course, anyone reading Baptist Press for the past two years might have known it. That said, somebody on staff should have explained the problem including Patterson in such calls would present for the Executive Committee and the convention. Apparently, nobody saw a problem.

And that is a problem.

Third, and perhaps most frustrating, is buried in a story published yesterday by Sarah Pulliam Bailey of the Washington Post. Writing about SBC President J.D. Greear’s call to “retire” the Broadus gavel — an overdue move we support wholeheartedly — Pulliam Bailey reports comments by EC President Ronnie Floyd:

“I resonate with [Greear’s] desire and for the past year our team has been looking at this consideration and we are committed to handling it appropriately.” (Emphasis added).

What in the name of all that is Nashville? Team Ronnie has been “looking at” the issue of the Broadus gavel for a year? Why does it take a whole year to “look at” this issue? A reporter should ask Team Ronnie for their homework on this one. When have they “looked at” it? Where did they “look at” it?

A whole stinking year?

J.D. Greear exercised his privilege as SBC president and took action. Over and done, and we move on. But the Executive Committee — which is the committee from which Southern Baptists most expect and demand efficiency, accuracy, and transparency – belabors for a whole year on something so obvious and easily resolved?

Keep in mind that when the Executive Committee wants to launch an investigation into the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, they get behind closed doors and take action within the hour.

When they want to defund the Pastor’s Conference, they go into executive session and pull the old Godfather “brains or signature” trick on David Uth.

And when Team Ronnie wants to whitewash every square inch of wall space inside 901 Commerce, it happens in short order. When Team Ronnie wants to expand the executive suite footprint, it happens almost overnight.

But no, when it comes to a tiny piece of wood and a glass display case, Team Ronnie needs a year to “handle it” appropriately?

Next week is critical for the Executive Committee. There are some VERY important matters to be discussed and voted on. If Team Ronnie has been spending a year “looking into” the Broadus gavel with no action, what we are observing is perhaps the most startling exercise in bureaucratic inertia and tone-deafness the SBC has ever seen.

Ronnie needs to get somebody to Nashville fast who will bring much-needed gravitas and professional competence to the Executive Committee. Team Ronnie just isn’t cutting it.

And Ronnie Floyd deserves better than the bad staff work he’s been getting.

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