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A letter in support of Obama

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POSTED: November 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Former Sen. Sam Nunn is leading a group of big hitters in the Atlanta business community in a campaign to recruit support and raise cash for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They’re asking for contributions of $5,000 to $30,000 from each for the Obama Victory Fund.
Although Obama may not win Georgia, the guys on Nunn’s list are not noted for backing losers.
A two-page letter extolling Obama was mailed last week to an A-list of Georgia business leaders.
In addition to Nunn and wife Colleen, signers of the missive included international developer Tom Cousins and his wife Ann, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and his wife Stephanie, high-tech entrepreneur John Imlay and wife Mary Ellen, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada Gordon Giffin and wife Patti, media mogul Ted Turner, big-time developer Herman Russell and business magnate Carl Ware and wife Mary.
The biggies wrote: “We see in Barack Obama an uncommon ability to restore America’s credibility and moral authority and to get others to join us in tackling serious global problems that will determine our own well-being and security. We need a president who has the temperament of a leader — a sharp, incisive mind, a rare capacity for self-criticism, and a willingness to hear contrary points of view.”
The letter made no mention of GOP candidate John McCain or his running mate Sarah Palin.
I don’t recall a group of such prominent figures putting their names on the line to support a Democratic presidential candidate who will almost certainly go down in flames in Georgia even if he wins the White House.
The establishment support for Obama may complicate another Georgia race: the contest for U.S. Senate between incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin.
A month ago Chambliss appeared a sure winner. He poured millions into TV ads bragging about his long experience (eight years in the House and six in the Senate).
He must have forgotten that many of his constituents are angry at “experienced” congresspersons for allowing a historic financial collapse, which they tried to shore up by voting a $700 billion injection of taxpayer money into Wall Street banks. That move wasn’t very popular either, and so far, it hasn’t worked.
As soon as Chambliss heard murmurs of criticism, he changed strategy. He forgot his own long record in Washington and attacked Martin’s character, claiming Martin was fired as state welfare director for “a breach in public trust.” Martin, a Democrat, was asked to leave early in the administration of Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. Everybody expected Martin to resign after his party lost the election.
Even as Chambliss launched his personal attack, his popularity dipped in the media polls. National pundits said Chambliss was in deep trouble. “Saxby is in the fight of his life,” said Georgia GOP Chairman Sue Everhart. The Chambliss-Martin race went from “bright red” on the network maps to pink with an asterisk, meaning “leaner with upset possible.”
Jokes about Chambliss’ voting record in the Senate also made the rounds. “Somebody ought to buy Saxby a ten-gallon hat, so he’d look more like a Texan.” “He votes just like a Texan,” said one Democrat, referring to Chambliss’ loyal support for Big Oil and Gas, an important Texas industry. Georgia has no oil or gas wells.
Even so, Chambliss has accepted more than $153,000 in campaign contributions from Big Oil and Gas. The industry has received more than its money’s worth in return.
Consider:
• Chambliss twice voted against assessing Big Oil $29 billion to fund alternative energy sources.
• In 2005 Chambliss voted against cutting oil imports by 40 percent over the next 20 years to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
• Chambliss opposed measures to protect consumers from gouging by oil companies, especially during emergencies such as Katrina.
• In 2005 the senator voted against a measure to impose a temporary windfall tax on crude oil and to rebate the tax to the American consumer.
Chambliss’ Washington romance with petroleum runs two more pages.
With a voting record like that, one might understand why Sen. Chambliss is a favorite of the boys who hang out at Exxon-Mobil.
In the end, our senior senator’s record won’t matter much. We’ve said it before: Saxby looks like a senator elected by a committee of casting directors. Poor Jim Martin looks like a Presbyterian preacher chosen by a panel of puritans. In a contest like that with the star-quality candidate having more gold than Midas, who do you think will win?

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

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