Political strategies evolved over years

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Politics from the 1940s-50s no way resemble methods used today garnering votes.

Back then, we relied on radio and daily and local newspapers to keep us informed about our favorite candidates. We perched on parked cars, while posts of election results were written on a giant blackboard anchored in front of Rex Sporting Goods.

But today, it is a completely new ballgame. In fact, candidates are not really into it if they are not slinging mud or making bold statements at each other.

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Do you think some candidates frequently say things and then say “I wish I had not made that statement”?

Take the case of Tim James who is running on the Republican ticket for governor. Just last week, the Internet and airways overflowed with a James-alleged statement that, if elected governor, he would cut the salary of Alabama football coach Nick Saban. But, James says he did not say this. He said it was manufactured by the machine who runs his opposition. And, he may be right. But, this comes too close to voting day and it may follow him all the way to the voting booth.

Whether he said it or not, it has introduced a different tone to this race. Readily identified with Auburn University, especially with his father’s reputation as an outstanding player for the Tigers, he has stirred the fires of University of Alabama fans. In fact, they are now saying “don’t mess with our beloved coach.”

Now, we may be seeing the groundwork laid for a completely new bowl game. Let’s call it the “Gubernatorial Bowl.”

Understand I am not taking sides in this. James could very possibly be a victim of this contemporary campaigning method. In addition to this statement, James is still haunted by an earlier statement revealed in one of his TV ads. In that ad, he said he wanted to see Alabama driver’s license tests given in English. He also coined a statement “We speak English in Alabama”. Some leading newspapers have editorialized this remark under the assumption it may cause foreign businesses to refrain from locating here in the event he becomes our next governor. As you all know, Alabama is regarded as one of nation’s most prolific states endowed with foreign enterprises. In all fairness to James he has already demonstrated his statewide business successes. Some of the other candidates cannot boast of this.

If he didn’t make the Saban salary-cutting statement, he received a great injustice from those who planted that remark. If his opposition is the responsible culprit they, too, should be ashamed. It’s really a shame, too, that it comes so close to election time.

It is possible we are facing a “political Auburn vs. Alabama Iron Bowl” right here in mid springtime.

While we are on politics, I personally believe there is something going on in the Democratic Party.

Don’t count this party out, yet. Here’s why. The pro gambling forces, who many say are closely identified with Democrats, believe their hopes for bringing casino-type gambling to Alabama lies with electing Democrats, both at the state level and the community and county levels. I have researched the Internet, TV and numerous newspapers and found hundreds of comments from pro gambling folks who are saying they will be voting for Democrats because they are the only hope to bring gambling to Alabama. In other words, the pro gambling organization is still very much disgruntled about being denied their efforts to pursue casino-style gaming in our state.

Many of these Internet comments and news stories, which reflect both Democrat and Republican viewpoints, “want to slap the wrists” of the Creek Indians. Some believe the local Porch Creek Band of Indians are “getting a free ride” with their casinos. They ask why we can’t have slots like the Creeks? Each time you read a story about casino gambling, read the sound off comments that follow. You will see what I am talking about. These pro gambling folks I really believe are ‘itching” to strike on election day.

Now, having said all this please understand I am trying to present an objective political statement. I am not a political scientist, even though I did take a course in this field at the University of Alabama back in 1954-55. One thing I remember from that course is “creases.” A crease, in political terms, is a route filled with surprises the opposition was not expecting. Can, we assume today’s political races are filled with creases? In other words, did James really make the Saban statement and will the pro gamblers really ride the coattails of Democrats?

Yes, political races from the yesteryears are not like they are today.

I mentioned about the Creeks. Many do not realize the hardship they went through to gain the status they enjoy today. We should never forget the efforts of two Creek leaders, Eddie Tullis and Chief Calvin McGhee.

I became close friends of these two men through my friendship with Hugh Rozelle. I wrote a column three years ago about the role Hugh played when the Tribe was seeking federal recognition. I told about the day I drove Hugh and Chief McGhee to the airport where they departed for Washington D.C. just before recognition was announced.

But, I especially remember Eddie. He worked tirelessly for the Creeks. Actually, he was a symbolic figure with a vision for the Poarch Band of Creeks back then.

His knowledge of Creek history and his expertise in Creek affairs is well documented. I know nothing about today’s Creek operation or leaders, but I do know the exceptionally important role Eddie played back when the Creeks were making their run for federal recognition. Much of Creek success today can be traced to the dedication of Chief McGhee, Hugh Rozelle and Eddie. There were others involved, and credit is due them, but these three were always in the headlines. It is also evident that present day Creek leadership is still in good hands.

By the way, did you match up those sayings and characters used in my column last week?

One lady said I cannot match up the “Silly Man” saying. Well, that was a line uttered by Fannie Brice. She played the role of “Baby Snooks” on her 1940s weekly radio show. You may remember the 1968 movie “Funny Girl.” Barbara Streisand played the role of Fanny Brice.

One other caller corrected my statement about “round up the usual suspects.” He said Claude Raines made that statement, not Humphrey Bogart. He was absolutely correct. The line was taken from the movie “Casablanca.” Bogart’s famous line was “here’s looking at you sweetheart” from that same movie. Thanks to those who responded to that column.

Well, I have been saying it for two weeks that I’ll be back next time with news and stories, of people, places and events from 1966. Those are my plans now, but I am often swayed by current events and other nostalgic thoughts which ramble through my mind causing me to write “in a different direction.”

Let me give a big kudo to Adam and the staff on The Advance’s new Web site. We can now bring you “breaking news “as it happens. Adam says “even more is coming to the Web site.”

There will be more next week.

Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at exam@frontiernet.net.

This week Lowell's column talks about politics. | File Photo