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Column: Mudslinging in politics is a dirty business
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I don’t know about you, but nothing would make me happier than for all the political commercials to go away.

I’ve been a student of politics for 50 years. I campaigned for former Sen. Sam Nunn in 1972. Nunn had a jingle that they hoped would help Georgians remember his name.

“Sam Nunn is tough. Sam Nunn is young. Put Sam Nunn in Washington, Sam Nunn in Washington.”

It wasn’t exactly a toe-tapper, but it got his name across, and he won.

When Gene Talmadge ran for governor, his opponent accused ol’ Gene of stealing in a scheme in which he took a few boxcar loads of Georgia hogs to the market in Chicago.

Gene, popping his red suspenders, said, “Yes, I stole, but I stole for you.” There was always talk that Gene put a fair amount of money in his pocket.

One of the commercials that got a little bit edgy was when Herman Talmadge and Marvin Griffin were running for re-election for governor and lieutenant governor.

Herman went around the state saying that the opponent wanted to build this island for millionaires. He had a way of saying “millionaires” in his stump speech that they sounded like criminals. 

The truth is, the island had been largely vacant since the stock market collapsed in 1929. The state paid $675,000 for the entire island in 1947. I would have given them $676,000, or even a few dollars more. Years later, Herman had the audacity to say that buying Jekyll Island was the best money he ever spent.

Marvin was a shrewd campaigner. He would have movie cameras on hand to film his campaign rally. They made it look like folks came from everywhere to hear him speak. In turn, he would show the films in local movie theaters.

I can remember an election when I was a teenager and a man running for county commissioner condemned his opponent because he was a Methodist. A Methodist. It would ruin our poor little county.

When Ronald Reagan ran for president, many people worried about the outcome because he was divorced.

These events seem so small and insignificant now.

I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on now. They hire two announcers. One sounds frightening, the other sounds rather soothing.

There is an old saw about asking a public candidate if he is still beating his wife. It’s a rhetorical trick of asking a question that cannot be answered without admitting a presupposition that may be false.

It seems that everyone running for major office is accused of some kind of wrong. The ones who are not accused are alleged to be against mom, motherhood and apple pie. 

They either want to lock them up and throw the key away or they want to turn loose everyone that has ever considered committing some act of lawlessness. They would put someone in jail who parked near a fire hydrant.

 Allegations of meanness are flying around like a fastball at the World Series. I’m ready for this all to come to an end. 

Heck, I’d settle for Broadway Joe Namath coming back and telling me about Medicare.


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.