Apr. 9, 2001: Some random thoughts on some random subjects.

I’m not sure if Republicans truly believe they have a chance of beating Governor Roy Barnes next year. The fact is that they haven’t got a snowball’s chance in you-know-where if the best gubernatorial candidates they can offer are State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko (“Frick”) and Cobb County Commission Chairman Bill Byrne (“Frack”).

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? From my earliest days at the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, Colin Campbell, the columnist for the Atlanta Newspapers and I haven’t been – how should I phrase this – the best of friends. A couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves in the same church service – I was ushering and he was visiting with Atlanta mayor wannabe Rob Pitts. We were nice to each other and neither of us got zapped by lightning. It was a good feeling. Maybe God was telling both of us something. Or maybe I’m getting soft.

I sponsor a lecture at the University of Georgia each year designed to help students understand that the public relations profession – done correctly – is to the external environment what lawyers are to the legal environment. Yet, in times of crisis, corporate CEO’s are more likely to listen to their legal counsel than to their external counsel. That is because most wouldn’t recognized good corporate counsel if it came wrapped with a bow. Adam Leyland, editor of PRWeek in New York, who delivered this year’s lecture, analyzed the recent Ford-Bridgestone calamity. What turned out to be one of the poorest managed crises in years occurred, Mr. Leyland says, because customers were not the primary concern of either company. Protecting their bottom line was. Also, the lawyers tried to manage the public and political reaction, something lawyers are uniquely unqualified to do. Their mismanagement of the external environment ended up costing both companies a lot of money and a major hit to their reputation. Remember that story the next time you call a company about a billing issue and get a mindless, soulless, customer-unfriendly recording. The company isn’t as interested in you as they are their bottom line. I hope the kids were listening to Mr. Leyland. I wish business would.

Speaking of UGA, my alma mater has worked diligently to recruit more minority students to campus even after having its admissions policy struck down by the federal courts. Despite the university’s best efforts, some black faculty members have decided to exploit the situation by posturing and pandering to the media. President Mike Adams recently told minority students face-to-face to quit complaining and help recruit other minorities to campus instead of expecting him to do it all himself. Bravo!

I got more reaction from my column on the need for parents to take responsibility for raising their children instead of expecting the schools to do it for them, than from any previous column. The horror stories I have heard from teachers and from parents convinced me that I have only scratched the surface of this issue.

From reading my mail, I think I am exasperating some people who can’t decide if I am liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. I am none of the above. I am anti-Jesse. I don’t like Jesse Jackson and I don’t like Jesse Helms. Hope that helps.

I am told that legendary thespian Alex Baldwin claims he was misquoted when he said he would leave the country if George W. Bush were elected. Don’t you know the President is relieved? And encouraging somebody to shoot House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde, who conducted the Clinton Impeachment hearings, was “just a joke”. Don’t you know Henry Hyde is relieved?

If I were black and worked for Georgia Power and was told that management did not considered nooses left around the office to be racially motivated or Christmas cards of the KKK singing, “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas” to be offensive, I would the company’s worst nightmare.

A few weeks after telling Bill Clinton on these pages that he needed to emulate Jimmy Carter instead of acting like an alley cat, I find him in India visiting earthquake victims. Could it be that he reads this column? Maybe I should send him a bill.

Finally, I appreciate your reactions to my opinions, good or bad. I got one of my favorite responses last week. After I had referred to Delta Airlines customer service as an oxymoron, a reader wrote that he had a better oxymoron: “Dick Yarbrough, columnist.” Ouch!