Tuesday, December 30, 2008

People of the Year


1. Barack Obama

OK, so it ain't really a shocker here, but, leaving aside the historical nature of his campaign and subsequent victory, what impressed me most about Obama was the fact that he repeatedly was the cooler head in numerous trying situations. During the Jeremiah Wright flare-up, he used it as an opportunity to open up a necessary and needed dialogue on race. When the Clintons tried to sink his ship in the closing days of the Democratic presidential primary, he kept a level head and stuck to his message. When John McCain picked Sarah Palin, throwing everyone else in the universe into a tailspin, he plugged right along. As the economy went into a tailspin and McCain frantically sought a way to demonstrate 'leadership' in a time of crisis, Obama projected confidence and assurance.

Folks on the left wanted him to get mad, and he didn't. Folks on the right accused him of being a socialist, and he laughed them off. And, in the end, it all paid off with a massive win on Election Day.

2. Rennie Curran

Not only do I simply love how the guy plays, but I also love how it seems he's the only guy on Georgia's defense who didn't forget how to tackle - you wrap your arms around the ballcarrier and drive them to the ground. As the Bulldogs' defense floundered in big games, Curran was the one constant, racking up 12 tackles here and 14 tackles there.

3. Josh Lanier

Lanier didn't ring up the big electoral totals during the Democratic Senate primary I had hoped, but it wasn't because he wasn't the most compelling candidate. He had the most experience and the most clear policy positions out of any of the five candidates seeking the nomination. What hindered him was his principles, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. An ardent advocate for campaign finance reform, Lanier refused to play by the rules that he criticized, thus limiting how much he would accept in donations. In politics, money talks, but Lanier tried to buck the system and that's something to be admired.

4. Mike Hamby

I know I helped the guy's campaign out, and I know we're friends, but that doesn't mean that Hamby can't be one of my favorite people in 2008. When he first told me he had decided to run, I was, rightly, stunned since he had never given any inclination that he'd be interested in seeking elected office ... but I was also pretty enthused as well. Hamby's progressive and pragmatic, and our views on economic development, the cultivation of human capital, the fight against poverty and the need to enhance our infrastructure closely line up. I'm very optimistic about his upcoming first term.

Honorable Mention

Knoshown Moreno, because he's Georgia's best running back since Herschel Walker (and I really hope he sticks around for one more year) ... Kay Hagan, because she's a great example of a strong progressive who can win in a tough state ... John Lewis, because when you stare down billy clubs, who you offend with what you say or who you endorse is secondary ... Jennifer Aniston, because, well.


1. Paul Broun

Seriously, what won't Broun do for you? Don't bank on him ever fighting for the projects in Northeast Georgia because that supposedly goes against his own philosophical views, thus making the 'representative' aspect of his office more symbolic than anything else. However, when it comes to spending an unprecedented $1.5 million of taxpayer money in six months to build up his own name ID, those principles fly right out the window, don't they?

Such a lack of scruples, however, only scratches the surface for our favorite congressman. He also ducked debates in his hometown (and elsewhere), advocated for unnecessary 'English-only' legislation that would have had an impact on the American Southwest and then, to top it all off, accused the president-elect of wanting to install a Marxist Gestapo and compared him to Adolf Hitler.

This is your congressman Northeast Georgia. Enjoy.

2. Sarah Palin

Not because I think she's ultimately a bad person, but because she was woefully ill-equipped and unprepared to participate in a presidential campaign, let alone serve as the vice president. She whipped up her crowds into banal and borderline racist fervor, lacked the basic knowledge of what the office she was seeking actually did and relied on shallow catch-phrases and subtle sex appeal to score points.

3. Urban Meyer

Sure, he's a good football coach, but he's also a shameless propagandist. After Georgia's 'Celebration' victory in 2007, Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt called Meyer the following day to apologize, which Meyer accepted ... or so we thought. The latter comes out with a book in the summer where he proceeds to speak in third person throughout and unaccepts the apology. Then, after his admittedly better Florida team is finishing off Georgia this year, he calls two timeouts in the closing seconds and instructs his team to celebrate. Any Georgia fan who clings to this 'I hated Steve Spurrier more' mantra needs to let that go and embrace the new evil.

4. Karen Handel

All the good things Cathy Cox did as Secretary of State, earning bipartisan praise from prominent members from both parties, yeah ... Handel's completely undone that in a little more than half a term. This past year, she booted Jim Powell, a Democrat seeking a seat on the Public Service Commission, off the ballot just days before the primary and despite a pair of legal opinions she requested that argued against doing so. It took two more losses in the state's judicial system to make her stop, but that wasn't all she did. She willingly ignored state law when Joe Carter dropped out of at State Senate race in South Georgia, reopening qualifying for only Republicans but not Democrats. Then, after the Keith Gross debacle, she tossed out valid petitions collected by independent Michelle Conlon in a vain attempt to block her from challenging Mike Jacobs. To top it all off, Handel then denied extended early voting hours in Georgia despite a multitude of neighboring states opting to extend theirs at the last minute.

Honorable Mention

Sonny Perdue, because he enjoys blaming Athens activists for him not ponying up the necessary incentives to attract NBAF ... Tony Romo, because he's the most overrated quarterback in the NFL ... Andre Walker, because he can't quite seem to reconcile the fact that, one day, he's going to switch parties so he's trying to throw everyone under the bus for his own errors and missteps ... Glenn Richardson, because he wanted to impose 170-plus new taxes on goods and services and have that money be pooled in Atlanta for him to dole out as he saw fit.


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