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So, do I have you in a festive mood yet? Good. Let's look briefly at a few other joyful events during 2002. For a start, the two most important dates were Nov. 5 and Dec. 5. One month, and the political world spun twice.
The first date is easy. The Democratic Party was exposed as a soulless, value-less anachronism. And it got trounced.
Dec. 5 may be a little harder to identify. I'll give you the answer: It was Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. The high point of the gala was when Senate Republican leader Trent Lott's true colors (white, as in white sheet and hood) were exposed as he effused over how America would be so much better off if, in 1948, the segregationist Dixiecrats had put Thurmond in the White (of course) House.
(Quick aside: Although about 100 reporters were at the party, only ABC News initially picked up on Lott's verbal excrement. Our beloved AJC went almost a week before one of its slumbering reporters awoke to the news.)
The real story, which started to leak out before the Mississippi senator fell on his sword last Friday, was that Bush's "Mayberry Machiavelli," Karl Rove, had put the dagger in Lott's back.
The fear among the Bushies was that Lott was honest -- he was up front about his history of virulent racism. That might have drawn attention to the fact that there was not a mint julep's worth of difference between Lott's antebellum thinking and the political "Southern Strategy" of the GOP.
To wit: Last week, Republican Party spokesman and sometimes AJC columnist Jim Wooten penned this clever line: "Sen. Trent Lott, in an attempt to save his skin, has flipped. Now he's a liberal Democrat. Bye." Interpreted: Being a racist, a segregationist, a bigot, was just dandy with Republicans such as Wooten. To renounce such ideology -- as Lott pathetically tried to do on his infamous BET network interview -- makes one a "liberal."
Let's not forget that Daddy Bush distorted and lied in every material respect about convict William Horton -- including black-izing his name to Willie -- in order to race bait Democrats in the 1988 presidential race. When it appeared that John McCain might thrash son Bush 12 years later, Dubya ran to the racist Bob Jones University to milk every vote possible out of Southern white guys. The Council of Conservative Citizens (which should be written with three capital K's instead of C's) was not only embraced by Lott, but seems to have been much loved by many other Republicans.
In 2000, brother Jeb (as has been documented by acclaimed journalist Greg Palast, but studiously ignored as an important story by mainstream media such as the AJC) disenfranchised 94,000 mostly black Florida voters on the contention they were felons. The company that did the dirty work has admitted that only 3,000 of the purged voters deserved the heave-ho. The other 91,000 undoubtedly would have awarded the presidency to Al Gore.
Now, Bill of Rights Defiler and Attorney General John Ashcroft has launched a "Voting Integrity Initiative" -- code for let's return to the 1920s when poll taxes, tests and raw intimidation kept blacks from casting ballots.
And, of course, without the Confederate flag issue, Sonny Perdue would now be just an also-ran.
Quick hits for 2002:
Bush couldn't prove Saddam had the nasties, the U.N. stood firm against bluster, and the War Party's plans were stalled. Noteworthy: Virtually every major church except the Southern Baptists has denounced "pre-emptive war" as morally repugnant and sinful -- which pretty much leaves the devil as Bush's theological underpinning for the planned holocaust. Most of the world isn't fooled. And most of the world understands that if possessing weapons of mass destruction, boasting a willingness to use those hell toys, embracing an expansionist ideology, and displaying a willingness to kill innocents are the criteria, Bush is arguably the most dangerous man on the planet. It's been almost 500 days since Bush promised to bring Osama in "dead or alive" and he needs a war in Iraq to hide the failure of the war against terrorism. Not to mention that Dubya and his fellow let-the-other-guy-die chickenhawks employ faux patriotism to conceal the fact that the lusted-for Iraq assault is a brazen colonial land and resources grab that has nothing to do with protecting America or furthering democracy.
Prediction for 2003: Americans will wake up to their cataclysmic loss of freedoms under the Bush regime. Will it be too late?
Locally, the big news -- other than Perdue's seismic shock to Georgia politics -- is the emergence of Shirley Franklin as a great leader of incredible competence (have I laid it on thick enough?). When the Rebel flag waving yahoos in the Assembly begin the Second Siege of Atlanta, Franklin's skills may save the city.
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@ Roxanne Dimacale