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Oglesby: Celebrating half-century of columns
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Grant and join me, if you will, in a little personal celebration. It means a lot to me to realize that during the two weeks since my last column, I completed 50 consecutive years of writing a personal column in Gainesville newspapers. This came during my 53rd year as a working journalist here. I complete this 53rd year Sept. 10.

It’s been a fun ride with more to go. I’ve made people glad and mad; philosophical friends and enemies; called many things correctly and my share of things wrongly; seen our county and its municipalities change in numbers of ways including demographics, political systems, attitudes, culturally. I hope this voice has helped progress along the way and helped prevent some mistakes.

The two most treasured things said about me during this time came from the late Democratic state legislator Bob Andrews and my current pastor Dr. Tom Smiley, both of whom I’ve criticized editorially on occasion. Bob said, in effect, "Ted calls them as he sees them even though sometimes he’s blind as a bat." Tom said, in effect, "The thing I like about Ted is he calls them like he sees them and writes what he truly believes and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it or him."

I have tried to write a personal philosophy and something personal about my life every so often throughout my career. Most of the philosophy comes in the form of my "Oglesbyisms." The reason has been that I strongly believe a columnist and/or editorialist whose work helps shape public opinion should provide readers with insight into the life that produced the philosophy as background to help them decide whether they personally agree or disagree. They deserve to know all they can about where he’s coming from.

Believe me, I really don’t care whether you agree or disagree with me so long as I have made you think and helped you reach your own conclusion. I think every so often of the local politician who was asked by a radio reporter what he thought of my position on an issue he supported. He answered, in effect, "I always read Ted Oglesby and vote the other way and know I’ve voted right." The guy didn’t even realize he was letting me think for him. That’s not my job. I now hope I can keep on keeping on.

Changing gears, I thought and still think we made a huge mistake electing Barack Obama. His inexperience and obvious impossibility of his overall campaign promises have hurt his first three months in office. Nonetheless, I think he’s done some important things right and salute him for them.

First of all is the promise that was probably the one that won him the election: to end the war. He has adopted George Bush’s original general timetable and now promises to withdraw combat rather than all troops responsibly. He has adopted Bush’s ultimate strategy that terrorism cannot be allowed to succeed.

Most economists when the first stimulus package was passed agreed it would take about six months for the effects to start affecting the economy positively. It has now been about six months and in the last couple of weeks the downturn has slowed noticeably. As all new presidents do, regardless of the origin which often becomes a campaign negative for the originator, he’ll take credit for it. That’s fine, that’s politics.

Granted, I don’t like his proposed march to socialism, but he doesn’t get all F’s on my scorecard.

Ted Oglesby is retired editor of the opinion page. He can be reached at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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