Two years ago, just before Barack Obama was sworn in as president, Christian publicist Mark DeMoss of Buckhead hooked up with Democrat Lanny Davis to launch something called the Civility Project – a movement to require people in politics to play nice.
It was a match of opposites. DeMoss, a Republican, had just finished a stint as Mitt Romney’s liaison to evangelicals in the ’08 presidential campaign. Davis is liberal, and Jewish.
In May, the pair sent a letter to 585 members of Congress and all 50 governors, asking them to sign the following 32-word pledge:
– I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
– I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
– I will stand against incivility when I see it.
Only three members of Congress complied – Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut; U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia; and Susan Myrick, a Republican from North Carolina.
Last week, only days before the rampage in Tucson, Ariz., DeMoss shut his experiment down. “I must admit to scratching my head as to why only three members of Congress, and no governors, would agree to what I believe is a rather low bar,” DeMoss wrote to the three who put their names to the petition. He included this paragraph:
Perhaps one of the most surprising results of this project has been the tone and language used by many of those posting comments on our website and following articles on various media websites about the project. Many of them could not be printed or spoken in public media due to vulgar language and vicious personal attacks. Sadly, a majority of these came from fellow conservatives.
Georgia’s Republican congressmen are rejecting any suggestion that hot political rhetoric may have played a role in the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of a federal judge. So is former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich. From Politico.com:
“There’s no evidence that I know of that [Jared Loughner] was anything except nuts,” he said, later adding, “This person was apparently by any reasonable standard deranged.”
If anything, Gingrich hinted, Loughner might be left-leaning.
“Certainly, the books that he had in his library tended to be left wing, much more Marxist and communist,” Gingrich said. “He was apparently an atheist. He was by no standard that I know of had any connection with any tea party of any kind.”
But some very important Republicans think differently. From the New York Times:
Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, on Monday embraced the idea of a more civil public discourse in the wake of the shootings in Arizona.
In an interview with Russell Simmons, which was posted on the Web site of the founder of Def Jam records, Mr. Ailes said that his network would try to cool the heated rhetoric.
“I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually,” Mr. Ailes said. “You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.”
Aside from an icy inauguration on Monday, the issuing of rewards was the order of the day for Gov. Nathan Deal. From Walter Jones of Morris News Service:
[Deal] began putting his stamp on state government by swearing in a new member of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, Philip Wilheit Sr. of Gainesville. The board canceled its meeting today because of poor road conditions but plans to meet Wednesday.
Wilheit fills the remainder of Felton Jenkins’ term.
Jenkins, an Atlanta lawyer who lived in Madison, died New Year’s Day after a short battle with brain cancer.
Wilheit headed Deal’s campaign and his transition. He is the president of a Gainesville packaging and marketing company.
The new governor also tapped two other longtime politicos to head the Judicial Nominating Commission, Randy Evans and Pete Robinson. Evans, an Atlanta lawyer who’s handled ethics cases for senior state and congressional Republicans, serves on the State Election Board.
Robinson, of Columbus, is also affiliated with a large Atlanta law firm. He served as Democratic leader in the state Senate during Deal’s legislative career, and his firm has been hired to assist the state in redistricting.
Evans also served as legal counsel to the Deal gubernatorial campaign.
Committee chairmanships for the state Senate are expected out at any time. Leaks are already proliferating: Bill Heath, R-Bremen, as chairman of the finance committee. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, as chairman of reapportionment.
The latter makes much sense, given that Seabaugh is a close friend of U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who is deeply involved in reapportionment on a national level.
Steve Stancil, the head of the Georgia Building Authority, was in the lobby of the Holiday Inn down the street from the state Capitol this morning, trying to assess what state offices are open today, and which are not.
Most are closed, but the decision has been left up to the state’s individual constitutional officers. The state Supreme Court has shut down for a second day. The state Department of Education was asking workers to show up late this morning.
Stancil had two warnings: First, pack a lunch, because food services are scarce. Second, the security personnel in charge of opening doors may not be around. So getting inside could be a problem.
House Republican leaders continue to throw off signs that a constitutional proposal to create a new Milton County isn’t likely to get anywhere this session. Earlier, the measure’s principal sponsor, Jan Jones of Milton, had said there was no rush – because the measure would have to appear on the November 2012 ballot.
On Monday, Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) brought up the topic with House Speaker David Ralston, who said:
I’ve had discussions with people who have concerns about the proposal. And quite frankly, there are people out in the state who have concerns about the proposal. We’ll weigh those in the balance as we get into the session.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider