08/13/2022

April 17, 2022: David Perdue’s Shot At Georgia State Patrol Can’t Be Explained

Back in 1984 as Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale was preparing to lose bigtime to incumbent president Ronald Reagan, he said something he shouldn’t have said and then tried to clarify his remarks.

I recall the late Peter Jennings of ABC discussing Mondale’s slip of the tongue with political pundit George Will. In Jennings’ opinion, Mondale had made amends by explaining what he was trying to say, to which Will replied, “In politics, if you have to explain what you were trying to say, you have already lost the argument.”

I thought of that story when I read where Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue opined that the Georgia State Patrol wasn’t at an “elite level” anymore.

Perdue is trailing Kemp in all the polls leading up to the Republican primary in May. Why he decided it would be a politically astute move to stick it to the men and women of the Georgia State Patrol is beyond me. Watch out, kindergarten teachers and emergency room nurses. You could be next.

In true Walter Mondale fashion, Perdue tried to walk back his statement the next day on Twitter, “Our officers are strong, our Governor is weak. Our law enforcement heroes deserve better leadership at the top. Murders are up 40% in Atlanta. We have fewer troopers today than when Kemp was elected. People don’t feel safe.”  Too little, too late. Damage done. (By the way, isn’t Atlanta’s murder rate primarily the City of Atlanta’s problem, not the Georgia State Patrol’s?)

His slam did not sit well with some influential lawmakers, including state Rep. Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon, a former GSP colonel and state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee. Albers said, “This is someone who is putting politics ahead of our law enforcement and that is simply wrong and David Perdue should be embarrassed.” 

David Perdue embarrassed? Get real. The guy is allowing himself to be used as a stalking horse by an angry ex-president for no other reason than to try and get back at Gov. Brian Kemp. As an incumbent United States senator and with Trump’s backing, he lost his reelection to a political novice liberal Democrat. He wouldn’t know embarrassment if it kissed him on the lips.

Perdue’s remarks also managed to offend a bunch of county sheriffs from around the state. Not good. Sheriffs in Georgia have always had and still have a lot of political heft. I’ve known a number of them over the years. I can’t think of one that would quake at the mention of Donald Trump’s name.

It is true the State Patrol is understaffed but so are many other law enforcement agencies these days. And this is nothing new. During the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, we discovered that at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the L.A. police department had more officers taking their regular days off than the Georgia State Patrol had people on the payroll. And that was five Georgia governors ago.

Let’s be honest. Donald Trump doesn’t give a sou about our state or its future. He simply wants revenge because he thinks Brian Kemp didn’t do enough to ensure that he would be declared the winner in the last election. He is on the record as saying he would prefer Democrat Stacey Abrams as governor, rather than Kemp. To help Perdue’s campaign, Trump has announced he is tossing in $500,000 from his political action committee for a series of attack ads against Gov. Kemp.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said, “David Perdue is going to need a lot more than $500,000 to distract from his unhinged rant attacking the Georgia State Patrol.”  Derrick Dickey, a former Perdue aide now consulting with the Kemp campaign told the Atlanta newspapers that Perdue’s “robotic subservience” to Trump is alienating middle-of-the-road voters. He says they could also do without the “mean tweets.” Amen.

And then there is the fact that during Brian Kemp’s first term, Georgia’s economy has been going gangbusters. The state’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low. We have a huge surplus and are in the process of reducing the state income tax rate. If it ain’t broke, why do we need David Perdue to fix it?

As for Perdue’s what-I-was-trying-to-say explanation about the Georgia State Patrol, I refer back to George Will: Sorry, bud, but you have lost that argument. Not even your boss can get your foot out of your mouth on this one. My question is: What compelled you to say it in the first place?

 

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb