October 8, 2014 Locust Grove - Senator Saxby Chambliss speaks during a cost-sharing agreement event for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project at Home Depot Direct Fulfillment Center on Wednesday, October 8, 2014. Gov. Nathan Deal announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority have signed a cost-sharing agreement for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, meaning dredging in the river could begin by the end of the year. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

The Jolt: Saxby Chambliss and the ‘four-letter word’ that is compromise

If you want a neutral party in Washington, get a dog. Preferably one that is blind and deaf.

Last night, former U.S. senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia was on MSNBC, perhaps to elicit a sense of déjà vu. Before he retired in 2015, Chambliss was a veteran of three federal shutdowns – in 1995, 1996 and 2013.

Precisely one year ago, Chambliss was on the MSNBC set talking about the 2018 shutdown, then in progress.

“Compromise is still a four-letter word,” the former Republican senator said, according to the transcript sent our way. “The real problem with trying to have a compromise here is as you say, though, is that, as you say, folks are just dug in on both sides. Nancy Pelosi says the wall is immoral. And President Trump said he's not going to budge, we got to have a wall.”

Notice the straight-down-the-middle, both-sides-are-to-blame nature of Chambliss’ remarks.

MSNBC host Kasie Hunt then asked the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ claim, made on Fox News on Sunday, that that 4,000 terrorists have come across the southern border with Mexico.

Fox News host Chris Wallace debunked Sanders’ claim in real time, but hours later, Chambliss would not.

“Certainly, we know that a certain percentage -- and I can't tell what you it is because obviously, it's very difficult to fact check it -- but we do know that a certain number of terrorist operatives are coming across the southern border because it is so porous. But it's for the exact number,” Chambliss said, “I don't know that anybody can pinpoint that exactly.”

Right about here, Hunt mentioned that Chambliss has been nominated to serve on an intelligence advisory board for President Donald Trump. Morale within the U.S. intelligence community – much belittled by Trump -- is always a concern, Chambliss said, adding this: “I think right now morale is about as good as I’ve seen it in a while. Can it be improved? Sure.”

To paraphrase that great moral philosopher, Michael Corleone: You might have thought he was out, but they pulled him back in.

***

Antifa protester Alan Hutzel was one of several anti-Nazi demonstrators arrested in Newnan last April, as they mounted a counter protest to a white supremacist rally.

Supporters say Hutzel has a Superior Court hearing this morning. In his defense, Hutzel intends to argue that Georgia’s anti-mask statute is a violation of his First Amendment right to free expression.

The law was enacted in 1951 as a measure intended to combat Ku Klux Klan violence.

It’s worth noting that John Lewis and his generation of civil rights protesters in the South never felt the need to cover their faces. That would have defeated their purpose, which was to be identified – by name – as equal, individual members of society as a whole. Enduring arrest and accepting responsibility was the price of admission.

***

We mentioned in a Sunday post that incoming state senator Sheikh Rahman, the first Muslim member of the Legislature, intended to be sworn in with his hand on a Bible, so as not to break with tradition. However, on his Facebook page, Rahman also says he has reserved the Senate floor for an hour at 3 p.m. next Monday – after the mass swearing-in ceremony -- for a “multicultural, interfaith ceremony with political and religious leaders, and dignitaries of Atlanta as we come together to offer blessings as I begin my term in office.”

***

If you’ve been absent from the state Capitol since the Legislature adjourned last year, you’ll notice a small but significant change. The massive oak office door of Senate President pro tem Butch Miller has been equipped with a switch to allow wheelchair access.

Miller is more cognizant than many when it comes to requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. His son Charlie, a Kennesaw State University graduate, relies on a wheelchair.

The third-floor alteration at the state Capitol is unusual. “As you’re probably aware, the age and the historical significance of the building exempts it from many of the ADA requirements, but frankly, it’s just the right thing to do,” Miller told us in a text.

***

A combat veteran now serving in Congress has joined those reprimanding U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson for comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler and describing Trump’s Republican supporters as the dregs of society

On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, released a two-minute video on Twitter to admonish Johnson for the speech he delivered last week at an Atlanta NAACP gathering at Friendship Baptist Church

Said Crenshaw: 

“OK, Mr. Johnson: President Trump is a lot of things, but he’s not Hitler. He didn’t kill millions of people, he didn’t start a world war, he doesn’t have any concentration camps. And to accuse him of being Hitler is intellectually dishonest and frankly a huge insult to millions of Jews who died under Nazi Germany.”

He then went on to criticize Johnson’s “cowardly form of politics” for his remarks. At the event, the DeKalb Democrat called Trump supporters “older, less educated, less prosperous” and that many were dying from alcohol addictions, drug problems or “simply a broken heart caused by economic despair.” 

Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL best known for being mocked on “Saturday Night Live” for his eye injury he sustained in an Afghanistan bombing, said he can’t “imagine a worse form of leadership” than what Johnson displayed. 

"This is not the behavior we expect from a member of Congress," Crenshaw said. "So I'll leave you with this. Pick on somebody your own size. Pick on me if you like. My office will be right down the hall from yours."

***

We’re still kicking our post-midterms hangover, but the political powers that be are already zipping towards 2020.

A GOP tracker approached Georgia’s newest member of Congress, Marietta Democrat Lucy McBath, about her support for Nancy Pelosi for speaker. Her answer was pretty run of the mill, but the National Republican Congressional Committee’s political arm is hinting that it isn’t about to let that vote go: “While we’re glad Lucy is finally letting her true feelings show, we don’t think Georgians will be sharing her enthusiasm” about Pelosi, said Camille Gallo, a spokeswoman for the group. 

House Democrats have also fired up their campaign machinery in recent weeks. We’ve already seen multiple press releases from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasting Lawrenceville Republican Rob Woodall for his votes on recent government spending legislation. 

***

On the same note, Democratic presidential campaigns are starting to snap up Georgia operatives. 

Even as U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California considers putting her campaign headquarters in Atlanta, her colleague Elizabeth Warren swooped in to make a key hire.

The Massachusetts senator recruited Richard McDaniel, the Atlantan who has vast experience in Southern politics, including as a strategist for Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and field director for Sen. Doug Jones’ upset victory in neighboring Alabama. 

***

Gov.-elect Brian Kemp is tight-lipped on the specifics of his first-term agenda, but he’s weighed in on a national debate that also hits close to home.

After Texas mascot Bevo nearly nailed the University of Georgia’s beloved Uga bulldog, PETA revived calls to ban live animal mascots. 

Kemp took to Twitter late Friday, telling PETA to back off. 

Wrote Kemp: “Uga is a world famous mascot who inspires athletes - and the Dawg Nation - to 'hunker it down.' Let's keep tradition and keep choppin'!”

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