After Zel Miller’s fiery speech this week, I’ve been hearing some of my fellow Seattlites likening him to a crazy uncle you never let out of the closet. The Democratic line is that he is switching his political veiwpoint to sell books. It’s too late to sell us a copy, we bought ours almost a year ago. Scott and I both lived in Georgia when Zel was the governor, where he’s easily the most popular statesman in recent memory (head and feet over Carter – sorry, Jimmy). We disagree somewhat over his most famous program, the Hope Scholarship. I, being of a more libertarian mindset, have issues with the idea of well-to-do students with B averages getting most of their college paid for. Scott appreciates that the program was across the board education funding for all income levels when the grades were above average. My trouble with that is lessened because he paid for it with a state lottery instead of higher taxes, and like Georgia’s libertarian talk show host Neil Boortz, I like the lottery because it’s a tax on the stupid.
I remember well how Ann Richards ran her governor campaign in Texas on the promise that we would have a state lottery funding a program similar to the Hope Scholarship. Zel was presented as being right on target. I was for it, but although we got a state lottery, a Hope Scholarship never emerged. Something I would have personally benefitted from had it been enacted, as such, I have a deep, abiding dislike of Ann Richards. No one was cheering louder when she was defeated by George W. Bush than I was. Zel Miller is the only Democrat I’ve ever voted for; I voted for him for Senate in 2000. I recommend his book A National Party No More, and anyone who’s been watching Zel over the last three years would not have found Wednesday night surprising.