Fol­low­ing Rus­sell’s flight plan

When the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions rolled around, Sen. Rus­sell headed for Spain to in­spect our mil­i­tary bases there. The jour­ney kept Rus­sell away from the do­mes­tic press and un­com­fort­able in­quires about where he stood on elec­tion is­sues and pres­i­den­tial ca

The Covington News - - Local news sarah noel anderson carolyn loyd herrin -

What would you do? Ge­or­gia’s gaso­line pumps have all but run dry. Prices have soared at the few sta­tions still in busi­ness. The state’s un­em­ploy­ment rate is run­ning ahead of the na­tional job­less rate, which is over 6 per­cent and ris­ing.

Th e state bud­get has a $ 1.5 bil­lion to $ 2 bil­lion hole in it, thanks to some un­re­al­is­tic eco­nomic fore­cast­ing and a steep dip in rev­enue col­lec­tions. And Ge­or­gia is among the top five states in home fore­clo­sures and per­sonal bank­rupt­cies.

Th­ese are not the best of times, though they could be much worse. Take it from a child of the De­pres­sion. I know.

The last time we faced such a dire mo­tor fuel short­age, Gov. Sonny Per­due or­dered the schools closed to con­serve gas. This time he flew to Spain. Is that what you would do?

Gov. Per­due may have learned his les­son from the school- clos­ing episode a cou- ple of years back. When cri­sis strikes, leav­ing the coun­try may be the best course. Just about ev­ery­body howled in in­dig­na­tion when Per­due closed the schools. Claimed the gov­er­nor didn’t know what he was do­ing, claimed he was cre­at­ing more prob­lems than he was solv­ing. So this time, Gov. Sonny just said, “ To heck with it,” and left for Spain, os­ten­si­bly to stir up new busi­ness for the Peach State. Hardly any­one said a word when the gov­er­nor flew away - again. He’s been to China twice this year.

Some folks crossed their fin­gers hop­ing he would find new jobs in China or Spain to re­place the horde of high­tech jobs he has out­sourced from state gov­ern­ment.

Per­haps we’ve un­der­es­ti­mated Gov. Per­due. His flight to Spain sounds as if he’s been read­ing the life and times of the late Sen. Richard B. Rus­sell, one of our state’s great­est po­lit­i­cal fig­ures.

Be­hind the scenes, Rus­sell was an ac­tive leader of the rul­ing Democrats in Wash­ing­ton and one of Pres­i­dent Lyn­don John­son’s clos­est con­fi­dants.

At home, how­ever, he was known as a staunch seg­re­ga­tion­ist and a harsh critic of the lib­eral wing of the na­tional Democrats.

When the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions rolled around, Sen. Rus­sell headed for Spain to in­spect our mil­i­tary bases there. The jour­ney kept Rus­sell away from the do­mes­tic press and un­com­fort­able in­quiries about where he stood on elec­tion is­sues and pres­i­den­tial candidates. It was a smart po­lit­i­cal move, and it helped Rus­sell main­tain his pop­u­lar­ity at home and his power in Wash­ing­ton un­til the day he died in 1971.

So you have to won­der whether Gov. Per­due is try­ing a sim­i­lar ploy, though I doubt that our Repub­li­can gov­er­nor is torn be­tween John McCain and Barack Obama. Per­haps he is just duck­ing ques­tions about his fel­low gov­er­nor, vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sarah Palin of Alaska. On sec­ond thought, that’s hardly a rea­son to flee to Spain. Be­sides, Ge­or­gia seems safely in the GOP fold for this elec­tion, and a change in the con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion seems un­likely.

Gov. Sonny may be cring­ing at the thought of hav­ing to deal with House Speaker Glenn “Romeo” Richardson and his side­kicks for an­other cir­cus- like ses­sion of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly. So he’s gone to Spain to med­i­tate on that dis­tress­ful prob­lem.

Not to worry, gov­er­nor. Romeo may lose his lofty perch in the House even be­fore the 2009 ses­sion of the Leg­is­la­ture be­gins. Also, by then, most law­mak­ers will re­gard you as a lame duck, and you’ll be mostly out of the line of fire. You’ll be sort of like Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush. No­tice how the me­dia leaves him alone, now that we’re on the verge of elect­ing his re­place­ment.

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