Jul. 22, 2002: Of Shrimp, Baseball and Politicians

Dr. Doolittle has nothing on me. While the fictional veterinarian had the ability to communicate with all manner of creatures – chickens and rabbits and horses and the like – I can go him one better. I talk to shrimp. I have been in contact with the little buggers and they have told me they are anxiously awaiting my arrival at the exquisite little Georgia Sea Grill on St. Simons Island. Given their delicate psyche, I am not about to disappoint them, particularly if they are corn-fried when next we meet. But before I go, I must bring several items to your attention.

I had the privilege recently to be part of a special ceremony at the University of Georgia. The courtyard at Moore College, which houses the university’s Honors program, was dedicated to Charles Gowen, 98 years young and a member of the class of 1924. Mr. Gowen was an outstanding state representative from Glynn County in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, a former president of the Georgia Bar Association and a personal hero of mine. But his greatest achievement is the genuine love and respect his children and grandchildren showed for him at the dedication. I pray I can earn that kind of admiration from my family.

Speaking of the UGA Honors program, the students in next fall’s program will have an average 4.0 GPA and a score of 1410 on the SAT. They just get smarter and smarter. I have hidden my diploma in case someone at the university looks up my academic records and decides they don’t want to claim me as a graduate anymore.

On the other end of the humanity scale, attorneys for John Walker Lindh managed to negotiate a plea bargain for that scumbag that will put him in jail for only 20 years, even after he admitted being a part of the Taliban and being armed for battle. He should have been shot for treason.

Atlanta Braves golden boy Larry Jones, aka “Chipper,” recently complained to the Atlanta newspapers about how tough his life is. He gets paid $90 million to hit a ball with a stick, which doesn’t sound particularly onerous to me. “If I had known when I was 7 or 8 years old what I know now, I’d have done something else,” Jones told the paper. He didn’t say what he would have done, but I presume holding down a real job was never in his plans.

Senator Max Cleland hasn’t done diddly in his six years in the Senate, except to vote as directed by the Democratic leadership. Yet, he is being referred to in his campaign ads as the “conscience of the Senate.” Cleland had better get cracking because the Senate is in bad need of a conscience. A couple of weeks ago, a bunch of Democratic senators spent the day railing about corporate abuses then hopped aboard corporate jets to Nantucket, Mass, for a weekend retreat with 250 corporate campaign donors. One of the companies providing airplanes to the Democrats was my alma mater, BellSouth. A Democratic spokeswoman saw nothing hypocritical about any of this, saying that “getting to Nantucket is logistically difficult and expensive to reach commercially.” US Air has round-trip tickets between Reagan National and Nantucket for $303.

Remember how popular President George Bush the elder was after Operation Desert Storm? Yet he served only one term and was sent packing by the electorate. If his son isn’t careful, the same fate awaits him. The American people want to see some decisive leadership from the president regarding the economy and the terrorists. We have cut him a lot of slack, but nothing seems to be getting done. Could history repeat itself?

Speaking of politics, Bob Irvin is making a valiant effort to secure the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. To say he has an uphill battle to beat a well-financed incumbent is an understatement. However, Sam Nunn did it and Paul Coverdell did it. Maybe Irvin can, too. He is a good man and I wish him well.

Now, if you will excuse me, I hear the shrimp angrily stomping their little feet, which means they are getting impatient to see me. Corn-fried shrimp? Yum. Yum. Look out, St. Simons. Here I come!