Georgia Gov-Elect Nathan F---in' Deal; Photo courtesy of Sara Guevara, AP
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, disgraced former U.S. Congressman Nathan Deal defeated former
King Governor Roy Barnes with 53% to 43% of the vote to Libertarian candidate John Monds’ 4%.
And old Roy has even conceded. No waiting ’til morning, no recount request, no drama. Old Governors never die, they just go back into law or insurance or real estate…
I wasn’t a big Barnes booster – his appointments at Georgia Public Broadcasting, where I once worked — were disastrous. There is nothing worse than having two people in charge of your public television and radio networks who know nothing about TV or radio, especially if one is indifferent to the product and the other contemptuous. It got worse when the contemptuous bully, #2, was promoted to #1. Plus Roy created the Georgia Regional Transit Authority (GRTA) without gutting the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) so GRTA would have some real power… ah, well. Don’t get me started. He was a smarter and far better governor than Joe Frank Billy Bob. But he was a known – and beaten – entity.
On the other hand, I certainly wasn’t – and am not – part of the “Real Deal” team. As far as I can tell, most of the real deals Georgia’s Governor-elect is involved in are unethical and even borderline criminal. He was so crooked, he resigned from Congress to avoid an investigation. Now that’s crooked. Keep Googling… that was back in March; lots more came out more recently.
So when Roy gave in and it was official, I felt a bit queasy, much the same way I felt when – in my salad days – my DeKalb Neighbor reporter colleagues and I were meant to be calling the county’s election returns in to WSB Radio. (Yes, this was pre-Internet, pre-everything, practically. Though I think we were watching CNN so cable must have existed.)
Morning in America: The Night Before… 1980 & President Precedents…
At the DeKalb County Courthouse, we watched as Jimmy “Not Yet the Best But Most Sanctimonious Ex-President Ever” Carter conceded to Ronald Reagan. Ronald &#^*~*^%$@* Reagan!! Archie Bunker’s candidate, for cripes’ sake. T’hell with the DeKalb returns, said we, and – dear, legendary Aubrey Morris, forgive us – WSB Radio’s news coverage.
Carter conceded before 8:30 PM, as I recall. By 9 PM, we were at a Midtown club – where the USPS office now sits on West Peachtree — watching a local band called Baby & the Pacifiers. At the time and on that night, the bass player for Baby Maurice was a very tall, lanky African-American whose attractions included his mad punk guitar skills and his sense of style.
As we downed our adult beverages, I tried to get into this “punk music” thing, and admired the band’s funky fashions, including the bass player’s long shiny vinyl trench coat and platform boots. I should mention here that although the club lighting was dim at best, the stage was small and right on top of the audience. I was a little wasted – and that’s the excuse I’ll stand by — so it was only gradually that I realized that when Mr. Vinyl Bass moved his guitar to show off his licks, he also showed off a little something more private. So Baby’s bass player at the time was, in fact, an artist-flasher.
It could not have been a more perfect way to spend the evening that Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States. We stayed until the club shut down, then went back to someone’s apartment until the sun came up and reality sank in… Ronald Reagan, the Archie Bunker/Joke Candidate was going to be our President for at least four years. I don’t remember any of us being that passionate about Jimmy’s candidacy; we just never, ever wanted Reagan. (Of course, naive as we were, we thought he was the worst we would ever have to endure; we could have never envisioned a George W. in our future.)
We had a strong and odd combination of cynicism and idealism, unique, I believe, to our generation. We’d grown up in the schizophrenic Sixties. We had all lived through Vietnam and Watergate, but had also seen the brutality of Selma and Birmingham result in political action that made millions of people’s lives better. Looking back, I realize our sophistication was mostly an act; we were really so young and far too idealistic to be real, kick ass journalists; luckily, there was no danger of that with the Neighbor, where my first interview was with a state senator who gave me his standard Kiwanis luncheon speech, and my second was a section front about the new Little Miss Tucker.
I think my colleagues of those days shared some of the my motivations. I went into journalism because I could write, I was nosy (aka proudly and insatiably curious), and because reporters could change lives… even nations! We’d seen it happen. Could we do that? Yes we could. We’d be investigative reporters and right all kinds of wrongs. But first we had to pay our dues – something everyone has to do – but we were paying ours in the late-1970s/early-1980s Otis Brumby Neighbor Newspapers/Marietta Daily Journal empire.
But the nation chose Reagan, a cardboard cut-out who hid his hawkishness and penchant for secrecy far beneath well-delivered jokes and an easy smile. I believe you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their life partner; that’s where you can get a real clue to the – in these cases – the real man. If we’d used that principle with Reagan, we’d have found a wife whose priority was new china rather than human rights abuses in China. On the other hand, the voters rejected a good, determinedly, deliberately, exhaustingly good man. Had they examined his wife, they’d have seen a woman determinedly, deliberately, exhaustingly devoted to public service. I admire but do not like the Carters. There, I’ve said it. And I couldn’t vote But I voted for him. The totals? Reagan: 43,903,230; Jimmy: 35,480,115 ; and John Anderson: 5,719,850. That was the last time I wasted my voting rights on a quixotic gesture.
So I was silently guilty as we all danced and drank to Baby and his band (I’m not good at math so didn’t add the numbers, and just felt that people like me voting for Anderson had killed America).
Maybe somehow we did, but we – well, Graham and Mark – had perfectly chosen the venue, activity, event and behavior to officially close out the previous two decades before we began the Ronald Reagan (still not a joke) era. We were getting whatever “it” was all out of our system, long before Prince Charles prevaricated about whatever “it” is. Tomorrow would dawn on what was to become Morning in America, filled with golden light, golden retrievers chasing golden-haired kids and, most importantly, gold lining the pockets of the rich. I was just 25.
We spent that night before the dawn in a dark, cramped club; imbibing lots of cheap alcohol; sharing passed reefers and poppers; gyrating to early punk music and laughing at and with a flashing guitarist. Still, we were who we were: four shell-shocked idealistic journos who had really believed that Ronald Reagan would never be president. President of the Screen Actors Guild, sure. But President of the United States of America… especially with that wife? Nevah.
The Real Deal? 2010 & All Politics is Local…
I kinda felt the same way about Deal. As a native of rural Georgia, I was 100% sure 95% of the people who were part of my parents’ circle (i.e. upper- and middle-class whites) would go with Deal. But my real hope rested with the rest of rural Georgia, especially in Southwest Georgia (in 2004, the one blue county amidst the Perdue/Bush red victory map was mine: little was Calhoun County).
And I was counting on the persuasive qualities of the few and the brave left-wing white folks, and the African-American community, the people with whom I connected as a kid and then later again in high school after integration. Like me, most had left Calhoun County. (Why stay, really?) But I was certain that we were all part of the No Deal movement and that Roy – bless his arrogant, flawed, still brilliant mind, but now fawning heart – would win the day. And, bless my little home county’s heart, we’re blue again, and this time we’re surrounded by a lovely Carolina blue pond in Southwest Georgia: Randolph (home of my maternal grandparents and our family’s Centennial Farm), Early, Clay, Stewart, Lee, Mitchell, Dougherty, Terrell, Webster, Sumter, Quitman, and – most notably – Baker, notorious for its lynchings back in the day.
But where are all of the other true blue South Georgia Democrats?? What happened?
Deal is an amoral sociopath (repetitive? not really). I can’t go into all of the truly fatal flaws of integrity, judgement….
Gad, I’ve given you the AJC article from March; just Google him, or just read Tom Baxter’s Southern Political Report or Jim Galloway’s Political Insider columns in the AJC. These two connected and authoritative veteran political reporters are my go-to guys for the scoop on local politics.
So if you don’t know the real Deal, do some research. Then you’ll understand my stupefaction.
And you’ll know that you can write off Georgia for any sort of progress for the next four years.
Georgia, the GAGOP, Tomorrow and Me…
I’ll leave you with my favorite reporting of the night, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a quote from GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart (pictured below):
“This is not an election,” said GOP chairwoman Sue Everhart. “This is a restraining order against Barack Obama.” (Just a note: Actually Sue is Georgia‘s GOP Chair.)
Georgia GOP Chair Sue Everhart
Sorry Sue, but I don’t think our President needs to worry. Sure, you’ve had some major Republican/conservative/Tea party wins, but they’re hardly a “restraining order” against our President. Sue and Nathan and Johnny and Newt (Oops! sorry, I got confused… Newt was a disgraced Georgia Congressman, too).
Nationally, how are all of you conservatives going to work together? Seems to me the new people don’t trust anyone.
In any case, Georgia GOP Powers-That-Be, it would serve you well to recall that – despite so-called disastrous mid-terms and that sexual scandal that you can bet you will not be seeing with the current President of our country – President Bill Clinton managed to hang onto the White House by a nice – but not “soundly defeat” his opponents his second time around: 49.2% to Bob Dole’s 40.7% and Ross Perot’s 8.4%. Still he was there.
So, Sue, don’t count your chickens too quickly, especially with the people you have in place (with the possible exception of Sen. Isakson). Remember, President Barack Obama is still in the White House, and will remain there for six more years… two, of course, in this term, and four in his next.
As for Georgia, let us Democrats see what we can do about replacing the crowd at the state level. Then, Georgia Tea Partiers, Republicans and other conservatives, you’ll need to watch your back locally.
** See county-by-county map of returns in governor’s race.