|Banks County Opinions...||
DECEMBER 18, 2002
By: Kerri Graffius
Seeing orange in the toy store
Saxby Chambliss probably wishes he had skipped Sen. Strom Thurmonds 100th birthday party. But he didnt. So now the Georgia senator-elect is asked to do much more explaining than he intended.
I didnt think anything about it. It just went right over my head, Chambliss said in recalling his first reaction to Senate Republican Leader Trent Lotts assertion at the centennial soiree that the nation would have been better off if Thurmond had been elected president in 1948.
As Chambliss looked on as an invited guest, Lott marched to the podium as one of a substantial queue of speakers who paid tribute to Thurmond. Some of the others said much more outrageous things, Chambliss remembers. The party was more like a roast or a bunch of guys standing around saying funny things; it just wasnt serious. Thats the way Sax remembers it.
So he says he was shocked a day or two later when Lotts speech made headlines, and several of Lotts senatorial colleagues demanded that the Mississippi Republican resign as majority leader.
Of course, Chambliss was not prepared last week to denounce Lott or even gasp at the long-ago segregationist rhetoric of the old firebrand Thurmond. Im a Harry Truman man, Chambliss explained. Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat on a segregationist platform against Truman in 1948. Chambliss was five years old at the time. (Though Thurmond captured several Southern states, Georgia was not one of them. Thurmonds Dixiecrats failed in their mission to throw the presidential election into the House, where they hoped to bargain for an end to the Fair Employment Practices Commission, the Civil Rights Commission of its day.)
But Chambliss had not come to this Buckhead meeting of several journalists (members of TV5s talking-heads show, The Georgia Gang) on a cloudy and cold day to discuss Sens. Lott or Thurmond.
Chambliss was here to comment on his future as a U.S. senator from Georgia and to try to put behind him the bitter campaign between himself and incumbent Democrat Max Cleland.
He says he has even forgiven fellow Sen. Zell Miller for calling him a liar in a campaign commercial for Cleland. Whether Cleland has pardoned Chambliss for flashing pictures of Osama bin Laden next to Clelands face on TV is yet to be determined.
Still, Chambliss is the new senator, and he appears to be off to a fast start.
He conferred last week with former Sen. Sam Nunn on how Nunn became so influential in international affairs and national defense topics. He hopes to model his Senate career on Nunns.
But Chambliss and Nunn are dissimilar in many ways. The new senator possesses several assets Nunn did not have when he entered the Senate.
- Chambliss goes to the Senate as a redshirt freshman. He already has eight years seniority as a result of his service in the U.S. House as a representative from South Georgia. In the House, he served as chairman of the subcommittee on Homeland Security and Terrorism. Nunn came directly from the Georgia Legislature to begin his career in the U.S. Senate as a pure freshman.
- The new senator expects to receive choice committee assignments in the Senate: Select Intelligence, Armed Services and Agriculture. (No wonder he didnt want to bad-mouth Lott, the main guy in charge of handing out plum committee assignments.) Nunn became an expert on international affairs, but his base of power was the Senate Armed Services panel.
- Chambliss has close ties to the White House. President George W. Bush came into Georgia four times to help Chambliss win the election. Since Nov. 5, Chambliss says, Bushs political adviser, Karl Rove, has asked Chambliss opinion on several legislative items. (Thats a switch. During the campaign, Rove - who doubted Chambliss could defeat Cleland - reportedly said out loud that the congressman from Moultrie was running a dumb campaign.) Nunn was often at odds with sitting presidents, from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan.
- Tall and white-haired, Chambliss looks like a senator. By contrast, bespectacled and balding Nunn strikes some as a stand-in for an unsympathetic IRS examiner. Chambliss speaks casually and often in the Southern vernacular (aint seems to be his favorite verb). Nunn is a cautious and sometimes cold conversationalist. His grammar would earn him a place at the head of any English class.
Despite their differences in style, speech and appearance, Republican Chambliss is a good bet to carry on the tradition of Democrat Nunn, who made his mark as an expert on international affairs as well as a champion of money-generating defense installations in his home state.
Chambliss public agenda will suit most Georgians - national defense, homeland security, Social Security reform, economic stimuli, prescription drugs for Medicare recipients, etc. He just needs to steer clear, at least for the time being, of birthday parties for old-timers where too much spirits may be consumed and too many tongues are set loose about the not-so-good old days.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or by calling (770) 422-2543, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web address: http://www.billshipp.com.
|Home / Job
Market / Real Estate
/ Automotive / Classifieds
News from Jackson / News from Madison / News from Banks / Sports
Jackson Community / Banks Community / Madison Community
Archives / Advertising / Printing / History / Links / Search Site
Send a Letter / Subscribe / Place a Classified Ad / Online Rates