0

What's really important

A sincere plea to Sonny and Romeo: Please don't embarrass Georgia again.

I can see what you're up to. You're already shuffling the political deck so you can play the race card in the next election. Don't do it. We've been hurt enough.

The nation and the state are in worse shape economically than I ever remember. Government needs unity to untangle horrendous problems. We don't need grandstanding, and we sure as hell don't need demagoguery and race baiting to fend off Great Depression II.

While serious lawmakers and a president try to hammer out an economic rescue package in Washington, let's look in on Sonny and Romeo to see what they've been up to back in Atlanta.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has joined the Texas governor in an all-out legal battle to overturn the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

When Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker declined to help our governor rescind federal civil rights laws, Perdue signed up a private lawyer to do the job. His first mission: Go to court to overturn a 40-year-old statute that gives the Justice Department oversight of elections in states with racist records. (That would be "white primary" Texas, "dead man voting" Georgia and a bunch of others.) Such a measure was a hot topic in the 1960s. Then it disappeared from the news. You never heard about it again - until now. This region needs a lawsuit to overturn civil rights laws like it needs another round of military base closings.

Double-digit unemployment, two wars, trillion-dollar deficits and just-around-the-corner inflation somehow seem more important.

Ah, but no. First things first. Before we take care of childhood diseases, overcrowded schools and runaway unemployment, Perdue sees a need to throw in with Texas to fight yellowing civil rights legislation. Perdue tending to his bass boats or his real estate portfolio would be more noble and worthwhile tasks.

As for Romeo Richardson, whose face will be carved on the newly planned Mount Rushmore II - the one that will depict America's most notable nincompoops - what has he been up to?

Having run out of skirts to chase around the Capitol rotunda, House Speaker Richardson has decided to devote his energies to insulting the House Black Caucus. Understandably, the Black Caucus felt special recognition was due the nation's first black president, so they prepared a gilded resolution in his honor. The white leadership of the House said no, no, no. The Black Caucus walked out when their resolution - a routine certificate paying homage to a person of note - was sent back to committee. Romeo said the document wasn't ready for prime time. Its literary style was not up to Georgia's standards.

Several other GOP leaders said they did not agree with its contents. These are the same dummies who believe that America produces clean coal and that unregulated banks work best to stave off a collapsing economy. This is the same crowd now opposed to the Black Caucus playing "Hail to the Chief" when Obama walks onto a Georgia stage.

Lest you believe Romeo and Sonny have hit the racial trail out of pure ignorance, think again. GOP strategists are preparing to use the race card as their main issue in the next round of elections in 2010. They've worn out gay weddings and illegal aliens as the gravest threats to our republic. Being Republicans, they, of course, do not wish to discuss money matters. Now the elephants have decided to resurrect that old standby political plank: Blacks are too uppity, and the South is still being wrongly persecuted for slavery and a host of other antiquated sins.

In a close election for governor, the old Talmadge strategy might work. "Preserving our way of life" in Georgia is a politician's most important chore. So says the mantra that seldom fails. The other stuff - health care, better schools, improved highways - don't mean much. Besides, an out-of-work Georgian with no money in the bank who proudly proclaims he's a member of the Republican Party probably can't understand complicated issues like tax digests, land-use plans and unpolluted water. I just hope he's smart enough to recognize the old racial sleight of hand trick when he sees it.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net, or Web address: billshipponline.com.