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Oglesby: Anonymous givers offer hope in dark times
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This year has brought many ugly, useless, senseless murders, muggings and molestations showing a lack of upbringing and inner anger. It's partly because of the economy, partly because of lack of upbringing and just plain meanness. Let's have a better year next.

Nonetheless, good Samaritans are out there. Over the years, total strangers have paid for mine and Betty's meal anonymously. In Harrah's Casino Coffee Shop in Las Vegas, Betty and I were eating breakfast. The waitress never brought the check, so I flagged down another waitress asking her to tell ours we wanted the check. Ours came and said it had been paid.

We looked around, seeing nobody we knew. I asked who did it; she wouldn't tell. I reached for my wallet, telling her to wait for her tip. At that point, a man behind us in a booth on the other side of a little wall said he wanted to apologize for the cursing he and his companion had been doing. He'd paid for the meal and tip. We hadn't heard a thing.

The same thing happened to us few years ago just before Wylie's Restaurant on the Dahlonega Square went bankrupt. When I asked for the check for three of us, the waitress said it had been paid. I looking around and saw nobody I knew. She wouldn't tell me but did take her tip.'

Betty and I and good friend Sue Smith recently were eating Sunday lunch at IHOP. As the waitress cleared the table, she said our lunch had been paid. I again saw nobody I knew. She wouldn't tell me. She did say it was paid for by a man there with his son. She said they often came in and every time, he told his son to pick out a table and he'd pay that table's bill anonymously.

It looks like the opponents' main attack strategy on Newt Gingrich are the House members who served while he was speaker who do not endorse him, and sharply criticize him. That's part of his baggage.

Old-time readers remember the conversation I had with Newt over lunch looking out the Peachtree-DeKalb Airport restaurant window after he resigned as Speaker and the House, as he should have at that time.

He told me: "Ted, a party spokesman can't be the party leader unless he's the president. When you're speaker with a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) and Democratic Senate, your principal duty is to govern on behalf of all Americans. To do that, you have to compromise. Many GOP House members campaigned on my ‘Contract with America.' When I had to compromise some bills to pass it, many, especially freshmen, rebelled against me."

The GOP nomination remains between Mitt Romney and Gingrich. Either could win, but I still give Newt the edge. I like his approach of not tossing mud at the other Republicans in the race. I want to hear positions and plans on issues, not how bad the opposition is.

I often split my ticket voting for one or a few more Democratic candidates. I think the "disagree agreeably" voter crowd is growing every day. Was it Ronald Reagan who said "Republicans should never speak ill of other Republicans?"

When next we meet in this space it will be a New Year, a leap year, a presidential election year. It's bound to be a lot of fun ... and anguish. My household wishes for you and yours the merriest of Christmases and a sober, safe New Year. May it bring to you what you expect and a few surprises that are the spice of life.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times. His column, now in its 52nd year, appears biweekly on Tuesdays. You can contact him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503.

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