Dec. 1, 2002: The Fearless Seer Strikes Again

A couple of Republicans have twitted me good-naturedly about my prediction on these pages that incumbent Governor Roy Barnes would easily defeat GOP candidate Sonny Perdue. As is my wont, I have taken their kidding in my usual magnanimous and gracious style, choosing not to suggest that if they got a shot of truth serum, they would confess to being totally stupefied that their guy won.

Republicans should send a thank-you card to Barnes’ political advisers who flushed $20 million down a rat hole. Think about it. Here was an incumbent Democratic governor in a historically Democratic state that had been shamelessly gerrymandered during redistricting to strengthen Democratic control. The governor had more money to spend on his reelection than the gross national product of most Third World countries and he still lost, thanks to a campaign staff that was either out of touch or out to lunch. If Barnes ever decides to run again, he might want to contact the PR students at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism. They could do a lot better job and for a lot less money.

So I missed the Perdue-Barnes race. So did a few thousand other political pundits. Despite that slight hiccup on the part of my crystal ball, my overall record on prognosticating is still pretty darn good. I was the only media person to correctly predict that given the number of times he was on television, Zell Miller would be elected governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general and would win both of Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate.

I also predicted that the future civil engineers and rocket scientists who compose the Georgia Tech football squad would finish their successful season ranked fifth. Not fifth in the nation, fifth in the state. Just as I had boldly prophesied, the Yellow Jackets wound up just behind the University of Georgia, Georgia Southern, Valdosta State and the Canton College of Commerce and Cosmetology.

Am I willing to make some predictions on what is going to happen in the Perdue administration? You betcha. I am nothing if not fearless. First prediction: The new governor is going to find a way to finesse the troublesome state flag issue because he is not going to make it a win-lose situation, as did his predecessor.

The best thing he can do is go back to the state flag that served us well until somebody got the bright idea to substitute the Stars and Bars so we could remind everybody that we came in second in a two-nation war. The flag I grew up with had a big red stripe, a big white stripe and a big blue stripe. It isn’t a poke in the eye to blacks and it has its origins in the Confederacy, which ought to make the “Fergit Hell” people downright giddy. Plus, it looks better than that seriously ugly rag that passes for the current state flag.

I predict that Governor Perdue very quickly will make nice with the teachers in the state. While Roy Barnes’ efforts to improve public education in Georgia was the right thing to do, singling out “bad teachers” as the reason for reform was dumber than dirt – another feather in the cap of his crack staff – and the teachers never forgave him for the slur on their reputations. A good place to start would be to ask the teachers their advice instead of telling them what they can and cannot do.

Now that House Speaker Tom Murphy has been made a full-time bream fisherman by his constituents, I predict you are going to see a legislature willing to cooperate with the new Republican governor instead of making everything a narrow partisan issue. It is called putting the needs of the people first – a truly novel concept in Georgia.

I wish I had time to share more of my can’t-miss predictions with you, but the bookies in Las Vegas are bugging me for my views on the upcoming Super Bowl. Frankly, I think the Atlanta Braves are a slam-dunk to win the whole thing. Remember, you read it here first.