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Yarbrough: So Cox can pass 5th grade; big deal

POSTED: September 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Even though she won $1 million for charity, I was not pleased with state School Superintendent Kathy Cox's decision to appear on Fox Network's "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?"

It was the equivalent of the New England Patriots playing Savannah College of Art and Design. If you win, so what? If you lose, it is a major embarrassment.

My son, a science teacher at Woodland High School in Bartow County and normally a cynic about these kinds of things, provided the "so what." He says the superintendent brought a lot of credit to the state and showed people around the country that we have some pretty smart folks in Georgia.

I don't argue with my son because he is way smarter than any fifth-grader you or I know, but I still think there were better ways for her to use her time. ...

I had to laugh when Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle appeared via tape to tell Georgia native Jeff Foxworthy, the show's host, "Jeff, as your lieutenant governor, I can make life very difficult on you, so make life easy on her." All in fun, of course, but quite a stretch. What the national audience didn't know is that the lieutenant governor in Georgia has about as much power as a cheap flashlight. ...

Why is being on national television so important to local politicians? I once asked Georgia's 1st District Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah why he kept popping up on Bill Maher's television show in Los Angeles. He said that it was the best place to reach young voters.

Rumors are that Kingston, along with Cagle and just about everybody else drawing a breath, is thinking of running for governor in 2010. The congressman has not hired me as his political consultant, but if he did I would tell him that there are more potential young voters strolling the shopping malls of Georgia than there are those watching Bilious Billy. Always have been. ...

Why all the angst over who is going to be the new vice president of the United States? Who cares? Whether it is Sarah Palin or Joe Biden, either will be a cut above former Republican VP Dan Quayle.

Quayle-isms are legendary. My personal favorite: "I was recently on a tour of Latin America and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people." If we survived four years of Quayle, we can survive Biden or Palin. ..

A couple of updates: I still hear from many of you asking about the current condition of young Abby Smith, the 4-year-old who has been battling cancer for the past couple of years. The first piece of hopeful news in a long time: There are no signs of cancer in her spine. She is not out of the woods by a long shot and her family still seeks your prayers, but a good first step is a good first step. ...

Frank Wilson and his unit of Marines are scheduled to move out of Afghanistan shortly. I am proud to say that your response to his request for supplies was phenomenal, and I continue to get a dozen or so inquiries a week wanting to know if materials can still be sent. It is too late for this group of Marines, but I will check around and see if there are other groups that could use some help.

By the way, Lt. Wilson is now Capt. Wilson, a promotion well-deserved. ...

And finally: My less-than-satisfactory experiences with the "new" AT&T and Rosie the Robot hit a hot button with many of you who have even worse horror stories than mine to share about your frustrations with the former BellSouth. It was interesting, also, how many current employees wrote me and expressed their dissatisfaction with the company.

Maybe the employees don't appreciate the "convergence" and "competitive dynamics" of the "new" AT&T. Or, maybe they think that meaningless buzzwords are no substitute for good customer service.

Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. You can reach him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139; Web site.



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