Dec. 24, 2001: I Don’t Know About You, But I Am Plumb Tuckered Out

The year 2001 grabbed my psyche and shook it like a dishrag. I thought my days with the Olympics produced some extraordinary highs and lows, but this year made those times look like a walk in the park.

I can think of no better way to recuperate than to make a beeline to the exquisite little Georgia Sea Grill on St. Simons Island and gorge myself on corn-fried shrimp. The little critters have been given fair warning. I am coming after them, ready or not.

In reflecting on the year just past, life changed for all of us on September 11. If anything, it made us stronger. I am ashamed I had so little faith in my country and in my leaders. We had ourselves suckered into thinking that Osama bin Laden and his crowd could bring us to our knees and that we had lost our resolve. They were the ones that had no resolve. In earlier times, I had called Arab terrorists “a bunch of cowards” and took so much heat I had to issue an apology of sorts. Now, events have proven me more right than wrong. I regret that I backed down. I learned a great lesson from that experience – if you can’t take the heat, go run a frozen yogurt franchise.

I also lamented in an earlier column that the Politically Correct police had taken over the country to the point that the majority could hardly express any opinions without being accused of homophobia, racism or worse. At the same time, special-interest groups could say and do whatever they pleased, no matter how outrageous or how unfair.

The September 11 terrorist attacks sent the PC police scurrying. Today, we are more united than I can ever remember. People are proud to be Americans and not in the mood to be told what is wrong with them. But be forewarned. You can’t keep special-interest zealots down for long. They are more prolific than kudzu and have about the same amount of redeeming social value.

Some other developments this year merit another mention. I announced that my son had become a high school science teacher in Bartow County after twenty years in the business world. I am happy to say that although there was the initial shock upon entering the arcane environment of public education, he seems to have hit his stride and is going to make a great teacher. I never doubted it for a minute. It is a tremendous source of pride to say that both my son and my son-in-law are public high school teachers. I can think of no nobler endeavor.

And then there was the “Let ‘em eat cake” attitude of the state Democratic juggernaut that made redistricting a joke in Georgia. I’m not sure if it was Republican incompetence or public apathy (probably both), but the Democrats in the state legislature have made it extremely challenging for a Republican to get elected to any office of significance for the next ten years, except perhaps as a Notary Public… in Wyoming.

Governor Roy Barnes managed to get the state flag changed, which still ranks as the Number One Non-Issue of the Year in my book. I upset the Public Service Commission several times in my columns and they complained vigorously to my alma mater, BellSouth, but they never talked to me. Maybe I need to complain to BellSouth about my gas bill.

UGA hired Mark Richt as head football coach. That was a good move. Paul Johnson left Georgia Southern to assume head coaching duties at the U.S. Naval Academy. He will lose more games there in the next three seasons than Georgia Southern lost in the past decade. George O’Leary left Georgia Tech for his “dream job” at Notre Dame. That dream turned out to be a nightmare. I take no pleasure in what happened to him.

What about next year? New Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin will be a marked improvement over race-baiting Bill Campbell. A tire tool would be a marked improvement over Mayor Bill. Roy Barnes will be re-elected governor by a wide margin. Max Cleland will probably be re-elected senator because beating an incumbent is hard, but he’s no shoo-in.

As for me, I will continue to say what I think and eat as much corn-fried shrimp as is humanly possible. Sounds like business as usual. Happy New Year.