Few politicians have lived up to the monikers slapped on them by their opponents on the campaign trail, but since former Senator Herman Eugene Talmadge (D - Georgia) first labeled Zell Miller as "Zig Zag Zell" during the 1980 Democratic U.S. Senate primary1, the former Governor and U.S. Senator from the Peach State has worn his zig-zagging title well for over a quarter-century now.
From favoring segregation in his 1964 state Senate campaign2 to railing against it sixteen years later in his failed bid to unseat U.S. Senator Herman Talmadge3; from campaigning vigorously for the Democratic Party in 19924 to issuing a stinging rebuke of the Party twelve years later at the 2004 Republican National Convention5...
(Keep reading because there's a lot more)
...And from praising former U.S. Senator Max Cleland as his hero in 20026 to endorsing the Republican who beat Cleland this year as the one who is "the best prepared to serve our country and serve our state7," Zell Miller has proven time and again that there is no political position he won't take that puts him on the popular side of an issue.
Five years ago, Zell Miller dedicated an entire chapter in his book, A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat, to blasting the filibuster and the Democratic Senators who used it to block extreme judicial nominees from gaining a seat on the bench8.
In the chapter, "41 Beats 59 -- That Strange Senate Math," Miller wrote, "The United States Senate is the only place on the planet where 59 votes out of 100 cannot pass anything because 41 votes out of 100 can defeat it. By name, this incongruous, obstructionist procedure is known as a filibuster. The word filibuster comes from a Spanish word for 'pirate,' and that is exactly what this procedure does. It hijacks the democratic process9."
Staying true to his zig-zagging roots, Zell Miller is back with claims that "Saxby[Chambliss] could well be the last man standing between a far-left liberal agenda sailing through the United States Senate10."
In other words, Zig Zag Zell is saying that Saxby Chambliss' 41st vote could be the one vote that obstructs the agenda proposed by President-elect Barack Obama; an agenda backed by more than 65 million American voters11. Zell Miller is saying that the one vote of Saxby Chambliss could well be the vote that hijacks the democratic process and hijacks the will of the American people.
And you know what? Zig Zag Zell is right.
Saxby Chambliss' one vote could make the difference between expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) or kids across America going to bed without access to the medical care they need.
Saxby Chambliss' one vote could be the difference between our soldiers deployed on long tours of duty in Iraq getting the rest and relaxation they need or continuing on the battlefield while fatigue impairs their ability to complete the mission.
Saxby Chambliss' one vote could well be the one obstruction to workers having the free choice to form unions at their place of employment.
On all these issues, Chambliss has voted no.
No on the amendment sponsored by Virginia Senator Jim Webb that would specify minimum periods between deployment of units and members of the Armed Forces deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom [Source: Senate Roll Call Vote #241; and #341].
No on the Employee Free Choice Act [Source: Senate Roll Call Vote #227].
If Saxby Chambliss is sent back to the Senate for another six years, his one vote, his one "No" vote could make the difference between more of the same failed Bush policies or the change that Georgia and America needs.
So, on December 2nd, Georgians have a choice to make.
It's a choice between staying where we are or moving forward.
It's a choice between obstructing President-elect Obama's agenda or working with him to, as John McCain said, "bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited12."
It's a choice between the same old shameless policies of Saxby Chambliss; policies that have now been endorsed by Zig Zag Zell Miller or change with Jim Martin and Barack Obama.
On December 2nd, Georgia should choose Jim Martin.
1 Cook, James F. The Governors of Georgia. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2005.
2 Begala, Paul. Carville, James. Buck Up, Suck Up . . . and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room. Simon and Schuster, 2003.
3 Grant, Chris. "Zell Miller (b. 1932)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. 13 Oct. 2005.
4 Miller, Zell. Listen to this Voice: Selected Speeches of Governor Zell Miller. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998.
5 Miller, Zell. "Text Of Zell Miller's RNC Speech." CBS News. 1 Sept. 2004.
6 "Chambliss Ousts Cleland in Ga. Senate Race." Online NewsHour. 5 Nov. 2002.
7 Pettys, Dick. "Chambliss Kicks It Into High Gear." Insider Advantage Georgia. 14 Nov. 2008
8 Miller, Zell. A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat. Stroud & Hall Publishers, 2003.
10 Pettys, Dick. "Chambliss Kicks It Into High Gear." Insider Advantage Georgia. 14 Nov. 2008.
11 "President - Election Center 2008." CNN. 14 Nov. 2008.
12 McCain, John. "Text of John McCain's concession speech." Rocky Mountain News. 4 Nov. 2008.