What the Zell?

Can someone please explain Zell Miller to me?

Seriously. I’m not a native Georgian, and I don’t pay as much attention as I should to regional politics. I only really noticed Miller when he made headlines during the Republican National Convention by challenging Chris Matthews to a duel. But as soon as he appeared on-screen, I noticed the capital “D” by his name and thought something was wrong with the picture. Wait, he’s a Democrat, trying to get Bush re-elected? And giving the keynote address at the Republican National Convention? What the…?

First off, how does a Democrat even get elected to the Senate in Georgia? Isn’t this a fiercely Republican state? I know that in 2000, Bush beat Gore by over 300,000 votes here. In fact, Bush only got more electoral votes in four other states, so Georgia was a key win for him. Was that just a fluke? Or was Zell a big “D” when he got elected, and he just switched mid-term? Maybe he was telling too many bad Democrat jokes, and he converted to keep the heat off. Sort of like the dentist in “Seinfeld” who converted to Judaism just so he could use Jewish humor. Zell wanted to be able to state “It’s okay, I can say that. I’m a Democrat, myself.”

What are the requirements to become a member of the Democratic party, anyway? Apparently believing in their causes and being a team player aren’t necessary for membership. Do you just have to send in enough boxtops to get your decoder ring or something? And what does it take to get kicked out? I thought it was harsh that my dad was booted out of the Catholic church many years back for getting a divorce. And he was still a loyal church-goer and all. How can Zell maintain his membership in good standing in the Democratic party when he’s doing everything in his power to keep them out of power? Maybe he just stays in their good graces the same way my pop got his Catholicism back (in a word, heavy tithing).

If membership in the Democratic party is so easy to come by, I’m surprised more Republican Senators don’t make the switch. Then, once they’re considered Democrats, they can say whatever they want about their new party. “Oh yeah, during initiation, they made us drink blood and mount goats. In the biblical sense.” But they have to be sure to find that balance between hating their party and being unable to leave. Sort of like abused wives. “They’re not so bad–they’re just under a lot of pressure at work lately. And they only get rough when they’ve been drinking. I can’t leave the Democrats, they need me! Things’re gonna change!”

Please, someone explain Zell Miller to me. Explain a man who speaks Republican, acts Republican, and does everything he can to keep the Democrats out of the White House…but still has that darned D by his name on TV. I’m not trying to bash him, I just want to understand…

3 Comments so far

  1. Mark (unregistered) on October 5th, 2004 @ 8:06 am

    Georgia wasn’t always a red state. The South has a long history of supporting conservative Democrats, largely because it was Lincoln’s Republican party that led the government that invaded 160 years ago.

    However, the conservative part of the phrase above has started to win out and we’re seeing Republicans take governorships, congressional seats, and electoral votes across the South.

    Zell’s always been conservative, but my theory is that something’s snapped. Party loyalty is a big deal for both groups and Zell must have had some kind of epiphany for him to throw away party loyalty as publicly as he did. Maybe his impending retirement has left him with the thought that he’s got nothing to lose. Maybe he thought he could cash out one last time with party treason and a book deal.

    I actually think he’s lost his mind, that he’s in the grip of some kind of senile dementia. Look at the fury on his face during his RNC speech. He challenged a reporter to a duel. AND, after a brief post-convention flurry of appearances, we haven’t seen too much of him in the past month. I guess even the Republicans thought he was too unstable.

  2. Jen (unregistered) on October 5th, 2004 @ 9:05 am

    My theory is that Zell Miller (pre-Senate) was a big dog in this state. He was untouchable, beloved by all! Then he gets to the Senate where he’s a tiny fish and I’m sure the Democratic leadership did not go out of their way to make him feel welcome. He feels slighted and the Republicans start their courtship, stroking his ego.

  3. Dana (unregistered) on October 5th, 2004 @ 8:22 pm

    Zell Miller was governor for two terms in the 1990s. Georgia is not really 100% Republican — Sonny Perdue is Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Zell wasn’t elected to the senate. He was appointed by then-governor Roy Barnes when Paul Coverdell died while in office. It was very controversial, because Coverdell was a Republican and he was replaced with a Democrat — Zell. I don’t believe he’s lost his mind. One thing you have to get about Zell is that he’s really an Independent. I don’t know why he allies himself with the Democratic party when he has always pretty much done what he feels is right rather than go with party line. He was a great governor for Georgia. I was sad to see him go. He said early on in the election that he didn’t much care for any of the Democratic choices for president and threw his support behind Bush. I mean, very early on he said this. Like a year ago. Anyway, my theory is that since he’s announced he doesn’t want to run for Senate (and I’m not sure he really wants to go back to his faculty position at Young-Harris) that he is angling for a cabinet post. We were afraid old Bill Clinton was going to steal him away when he was Georgia’s governor. It wouldn’t surprise me if he found some place in Bush’s administration, should Bush be re-elected.

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