I like to surround myself with those smarter than me. In my case, that’s not hard to do. I could make a sack of rocks look like a Mensa meeting. So, I was flattered to be asked to lunch recently with a group of reporters, editors and long-time political observers in Atlanta and listen to them talk politics. I didn’t add much to the conversation but I managed not to get spinach stuck in my teeth, so I would call the day a success.
These guys -- and they were all guys -- know a lot about who is running for what and how well the candidates are doing or are not doing. The consensus of the group was that both the Democratic and Republican primaries for the U.S. Senate as well as the various state congressional contests are for the most part “blah.” The candidates aren’t raising much money; they have not established a “brand” that distinguishes one from another and the public -- this is where you come in -- doesn’t seem to care.
The media pros attribute some of this lackluster political performance to the fact that the primaries have been moved up to May this year and that has thrown a lot of people off their game. My theory is that you are weary of hearing political promises you know the candidates won’t keep. They know it and we know it.
The lunch bunch has little kind to say about the attack ads on Georgia candidates from out-of-state special interest groups like the Chicago-based Ending Spending Action Fund. They think the ads are counterproductive. The fund was founded by the guy that owns the Chicago Cubs. If he asked me, I would tell him to worry more about trying to get his team to the World Series, which the Cubs haven’t won in 105 years. We don’t need political advice from losers.
But please don’t let all of this negative stuff discourage you from voting. The biggest threat to our way of life is not Vladimir Putin or some nutcase with a bad attitude sleeping with goats in Afghanistan; it is our own apathy. Apathy includes not voting because we don’t think we can make a difference. That is as un-American as burning our flag. You must vote. No excuses.
Everybody around the lunch table is a veteran political observer. Even though I have been doing a weekly column for 17 years, I was still the newbie of the group. Newbies should be seen and not heard. But I did want to speak up when the conversation got around to former 4th Congressional District Democratic U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney. Those assembled surmised that she may still be involved in running the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
It just might be that I know something about Cynthia McKinney they don’t know. McKinney is currently serving as Ambassador to Outer Space and my unimpeachable sources tell me that while her body may very well be in the Middle East these days, her head remains on the planet Uranus, where she fantasizes about the good old days when she used to wet-kiss the presidents on national television as they walked into the House of Representatives to deliver their State of the Union message. Maybe I should have shared this information with my luncheon companions but I didn’t want to look like a showoff.
That day before I went to lunch with the group, I was informed by a member of the Georgia Legislature that a colleague of his in the House had whined that I don’t like anybody in the Legislature. Oh, pooh. I like most everybody there and on both sides of the aisle, too. Besides, if I didn’t like politicians, why would I spend so much time writing about them? They are the gift that keeps on giving.
What I don’t like is when legislators take money from special interest groups and swear to you and me that it won’t influence their vote. Of course it will. Otherwise, why would lizard-loafered lobbyists bother? They sure aren’t going to give politicians money to vote against their interests.
So, to the legislator who thinks I don’t like him or her, please know that I do, as long as you don’t whine. I also like politics and I especially like being seen in the presence of a group of savvy political observers who, for at least one day, considered me a peer. I’m just thankful I didn’t get spinach in my teeth.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.