Bureaucrats in the U.S. Justice Department, who dislike Georgia's law requiring voters to show photo identification, claim state Rep. Sue Burmeister made racist claims about black voters. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which hates the law, repeated the claim as gospel. Burmeister, who sponsored the law, denies saying it.
Who is telling the truth? We may never know. It's secret.
Still, just the hint of "racism" was enough to cause Augusta's Democrats to figuratively beat up a Republican woman, even though they found themselves incapable of lifting a hand against one of their own - a convicted wife-beater who was accused of stealing money from a black charity.
So why is it just a hint of racism, and not proof? It seems the leaked Justice Department memo that started the Burmeister witch hunt isn't available for public review. A Justice Department spokesman told our reporter, Scott Trubey, that any tapes or transcripts of the three hours of conversation between Justice lawyers and Burmeister are privileged, and will not be released.
How convenient. The constitution allows us all the right to face our accusers. Whom do you face when the accuser is anonymous, given credence only by partisans and in a liberal, big-city newspaper with an axe to grind?
Augusta's Democrats, who wouldn't know principle if they tripped on it at the door of the union hall, are hiding their glee over Burmeister's discomfort behind a facade of self-righteous indignation. They're hoping the story, no matter how ill-sourced or fictitious, will energize black Augusta voters to go to the polls on Dec. 6 to vote in the mayoral runoff.
How convenient, again; one of the mayoral candidates is Willie Mays, whom Augusta's Democrats endorsed.
Curiously, they didn't get all huffy and puffy for Mays' resignation from the Augusta Commission when he traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2000 and made unfounded inflammatory and racist claims about Augusta.
Curiouser still is how Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum announced that the party had "decided not to take a position" and to presume innocence when state Sen. Charles Walker was indicted in 2004 for swiping money from a black charity.
Curiouser-er, Greenbaum was absent from the papers when that evidence slam-dunked Walker's guilt; instead, Greenbaum's wife trotted out to cast doubt on the verdict (she called some of the case against Walker "definitely wrong").
Yep, those Justice Department attorneys lack credibility when they're publicly nailing the Democrats' poster boy, but they are suddenly paragons of virtue when they leak disparaging comments about a Republican woman who had the gall to pass a bill requiring voters to show a photo ID when casting a ballot for Willie Mays or any other candidate.
The photo I'm waiting on is an 8x10 color portrait of Walker being waist-shackled and orange-jump-suit-perp-walked to prison, just like Robin Williams after his recent re-arrest.
Walker's supporters in Augusta's Democratic Party should get a suitable-for-framing copy, too, as a reminder: Burmeister was anonymously accused of repeating the often-made claim that blacks are paid to vote, and they call for her head. Yet when Walker is convicted of ripping off poor black kids hoping for a scholarship, they continue to support him, smiling grimly, as if they suffer from battered-wife syndrome: standing by their man, hoping for better treatment and just one more payday.
Calling these people hypocrites is an insult to hypocrites, just as comparing convicted wife-beater and thief Charles Walker to wife-beaters and thieves is to insult wife-beaters and thieves.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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