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Oglesby: Thoughts on runoffs, BULLI and Obama
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Potpourri: Today is primary runoff day. Tonight, we’ll know Hall County’s next clerk of the court and which Democrat will take on U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Charles Baker and Jennifer Gibbs ran campaigns void of personal attacks on each other. Gibbs, instead of focusing on her qualifications and specifically how she would improve the office’s administration, attacked the incumbent, who is retiring, with references insinuating excessive spending, fund shortages, questionable ethics, etc., when official reviews had found otherwise. Her paid consultant also inappropriately used his party office against opponent Bob Vass’ candidacy. Unbecoming at least.

We’ve got some dates for my upcoming BULLI course on terrorism. The fall season preview meeting, where the instructors present brief course summaries, will be in the McRae-Thurmond Auditorium on the Brenau Campus at 4 p.m. Aug. 14. Registration begins then and will continue until the class starts. The six sessions, starting Oct. 1, will be from 9-10:30 a.m. Wednesdays.

I’ll miss one session in late October, but that one could be the course’s highlight. War on the terror network (as opposed to a specific organization) currently is centered in Iraq. Two on-scene experts have agreed to fill in for me and also may attend several other sessions as their schedules permit. One is a retired three-star general who has spent about three of the past five years as a civilian adviser in Iraq. The other is a field grade Marine commander recently returned from a second tour. You can learn much about the current situation in that region from them.

Like him or loathe him, hand it to Barack Obama, a superbly gifted orator with rock-star appeal. He correctly senses that the American people want a change, even though the people apparently haven’t figured out exactly what change other than presidents. Never mind; we get that anyway. He’s milking that skillfully, effectively running against George Bush hoping that extends to John McCain.

The free market falls into recession as it historically has done every five years or so (and recovers). Obama blames "Bush’s failed economic policies." We’ve found few weapons of mass destruction. Bush "lied" to get us into the war that Obama opposed. Bush then used the wrong strategy and prolonged the war. Never mind: Throughout history, tactics and even strategies have changed with evolving battlefield conditions.

Bush has played the Lone Ranger, alienating our allies abroad and worsening our international reputation. He refuses to talk to enemies. Never mind: It’s not news that changing conditions in many countries require their politicians to express public opposition to what those leaders know is needed and support backstage. In any administration, there are public foreign policy channels and negotiations to find common grounds to build upon. They’re called "back channels."

Even those privately agreeing that what Bush is doing is best, Democrats in general have the luxury of hammering Bush constantly, knowing he, like any president should, is going to do what he thinks is best for the country. They’ll know — and take credit for — any successful resolution: war, economy, what have you.

Back to the "never minds" above. Obama’s trip to the Middle East may have exposed his unawareness of such real-world never minds. It may also have exposed the trip’s real purpose: foist a foreign policy expertise on a naive electorate. Surely thinking people don’t believe such a trip provides the experience needed in the presidency.

His well-documented snubs of troops and wounded unless cameras were present helped fill the snake oil bottle. Let’s hope the remainder of his campaign will bring us his workable (as opposed to mere promises) solutions to the admittedly many real problems our country faces. Let’s have "straight talk" not lubricated by snake oil.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly and on

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