While the rest of us were watching President Bush's State of the Union speech on television Tuesday, Lee Muns was getting a close-up view.
Courtesy of U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, Columbia County's Republican Party chairman viewed Bush's speech in person.
"I had told Charlie if there was ever an opportunity, that I'd like to go," Muns said. Norwood's wife, Gloria, wasn't attending this year, so Norwood's single additional ticket was available. "I shagged it on up there," Muns said. "It's a neat experience.
As for the speech, "I think the president did an excellent job," Muns said. "He came across with a great leadership style. He issued some marching orders that there are some important issues that we've got to find common ground on."
In addition to being amid the atmosphere of more than 200 years of history, Muns had a front-row seat to the modern comic-drama of the two women being ejected from the chamber for "protests."
Beverly Young, the wife of Republican Rep. Bill Young of Florida, and Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan, were both escorted from the chambers for wearing T-shirts emblazoned with messages: Young's in support of the war, Sheehan's criticizing it.
"Congressman Young's wife was sitting one seat down from me," Muns said. "Once the president started speaking, there was a guy who came in in a suit and just leaned over and said, Would you come with me, please?'"
The removal didn't bother him, Muns said. "They want to maintain the decorum of the House. A rule is a rule."
Young was never charged. Sheehan was, but the charges were dropped and the Capitol police apologized for her arrest.
Got the wrong man
Speaking of arrests, our attentive reporter, Scott Trubey, was checking records at the Columbia County Detention Center Wednesday afternoon and saw a familiar name pop up: Charlie Walker.
The inmate, a black male, age 39, with an Augusta address, was being booked for driving under the influence and weaving.
Could it be? Was the son of already-jailed federal prisoner Charles Walker in jail for drunken driving?
Nope. One mug-shot photo later, we realized the DUI defendant was a different man. The gender, race, age and city were all the same, but the photo was of an unrelated Walker.
The younger Walker's brush with mistaken identity reminded me of his attempt to capitalize on someone else's identity.
Back in 2002, when Walker Jr. ran for the U.S. House, he distributed a campaign flyer with a list of names of people who supported him. One of those names: Jim Whitehead.
Could it be? Was former Republican Columbia County Commissioner Jim Whitehead really supporting the son of the man who was the Democratic Senate majority leader?
No. This was just another much-less-known Augusta man who happened to have the same name. The now-state Senator Jim Whitehead didn't support either of the Walkers.
There also was a funny case of mistaken identity recently in Wilkes County. The Washington paper printed a story in which a city cop asserted that he was not the same person as a man with a similar name who had been arrested for drug possession in McDuffie County.
The rumor mill had gotten to him, it seemed, so he felt it necessary to ask the paper to defend his name.
You won't catch me defending much about Charles Walker, junior or senior. At least in this case I'll defend Junior from the rumor mill. As far as I know, he has not been arrested in Columbia County.
But Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has. Really; the 20-year-old Martinez resident - not the basketball star - was charged last week with stealing a bicycle.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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