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Reading the tea leaves
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Anyone who thought Democrats and Republicans in Washington would join hands and skip into the sunset together on the Yellow Brick Road must have been dreaming.
Bipartisanship is like a unicorn or Shangri-La. It doesn’t exist, no matter what you read or see on TV.
President Barack Obama last week discovered the hard way the myth of bipartisanship. After making several concessions to Republicans on the gargantuan stimulus bill, the president watched unsmilingly as every single House Republican voted against his measure, which passed anyway.
The House vote was not the only evidence that two-party cooperation is an idea whose time has not come in Washington  —  or Atlanta either.
Republicans saw a potential major issue in voting “no” on big spending, regardless of how the money is to be used. The GOP may be on to something. After all, the elephants have just suffered a historic defeat at the polls partly because they ran up a multitrillion-dollar national debt, which contributed to the near collapse of the economy.
Two or four years from now, the House Republicans who turned their backs on the currently planned Democratic spending spree may prove to be right. The massive shot of green stimulant into the worn-out economic system may prove to be too little too late.
Back in Georgia, 11th District Congressman Phil Gingrey, R-Cobb, groveled at the feet of the nation’s right-wing talk show hosts. Gingrey apologized so profusely to Rush Limbaugh that one would have thought Limbaugh had suddenly become the unfettered emperor of the GOP. Come to think of it, maybe he does wear the elephant crown. Gingrey also sent “I’m sorry” messages to Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich. Seems Dr. Gingrey let his mouth outrun his brain a few days ago when he said on national TV that the talking heads knew how to talk the talk but not walk the walk.
Until he apologized, Gingrey had been appearing every other day on the Democrat-leaning cable network MSNBC. Now his budding TV career may be gone because he didn’t agree with Rush’s on-air wish for the Obama administration to fail.
There was one more clue that the GOP believes it can bounce back without diving into bed with the donkeys.
The Georgia Legislature is considering a measure to allow Georgia Power to collect at least $1.5 billion from its customers to build a nuclear power plant.
Now get this: The power company wants to start collecting the money for the facility six years before the plant begins generating power. This is like paying your friendly Ford dealer for a car it hopes to deliver to you in 2015, assuming all economic conditions are the same as they are now. Any economist will tell you that such an assumption is in the same category as unicorns and bipartisanship.
Except for the usual consumer-and-conservation crowd, hardly anyone uttered a critical word about the layaway nuclear power plan.
In the old days when Republicans and Democrats competed for the Statehouse, no corporation  —  except one misled gas company  —  had the chutzpah to ask customers to pay for energy plants still on the drawing boards. Georgia Power lobbyists, historically among the most knowledgeable in the business, must feel the GOP is going to be in the driver’s seat for a long, long time. Otherwise, they would never have dared ask the Legislature to let the company’s customers pay years ahead for the new reactors. By the way, the Public Service Commission, usually charged with policing utility rates, was left out in the cold on the proposed nuclear deal.
The early direction of the gubernatorial winds may tell us something about the future of the Grand Old Party.
With Election Day for our next governor still nearly two years away, seven Republicans (at last count) have announced that they are running. Only two Democrats have so indicated to date.
The Democrats’ top star, former Gov. Roy Barnes, won’t say whether he plans to get into the contest.
The December runoff election between Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin, D-Atlanta, may have dampened Democratic enthusiasm for trying another comeback. Chambliss won the runoff by a landslide.
In the general election, Obama came close (within 5 percent) of gaining Georgia, but, in the end, the Peach State was one of the states that turned its back on the new president. Our GOP delegation also voted en masse against Obama’s economic bailout bill.
Georgia is hardly a weathervane of national political sentiments, but our Republican brain trust may have a good sense for the future of their party. That is why Georgia may soon be better known as the Land of No rather than the Peach State.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail:, or Web address:
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