Zell Miller in History

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Fuzzy Bear:

Quote from: Paul Begala

He spoke at the Bush 2004 convention. And it really strained our friendship to say the least. Carville publicly broke with him, had donated to Zell's campaign and publicly said I want my money back. It was just a bitter, bitter break.

I have to say, I was thinking about doing the same. And, I mean...this guy, he called me his third son. I mean, I'm really close to him. I was thinking about doing that. And I got a call from someone who said, "Look, you need to never do that, never publicly attack this man."

And I said, "why?"

And the person said, "Because the chances are really good that you'll outlive him and you don't want that on your conscience. This guy's been too important to your life."

That person was Hillary Clinton . . .

So Zell Miller died with the bulk of the Clinton 1992 Brain Trust reconciled to him.  2004 and some of the latter support of GA Republicans was forgiven. 

Look at this exchange betwen David Axelrod and Paul Begala:


David Axelrod: You guys went on to Georgia and worked for Zell Miller who was another sort luminescent personality-- ended up, sort of, on the wrong side of history...

Paul Begala: In the Senate, but by far the best governor Georgia ever produced. Really remarkable. He transformed his state. He created a state lottery which many states did in the 80s. But he understood power better than any of the rest of them. I mean it. In the way like the Founding Fathers did.

Is Zell Miller the best Governor Georgia ever had?  He's got a case, that's for sure.  He was a moderate liberal Governor who was forward-thinking.  His 1992 nominating speech for Bill Clinton was one of the most effective pieces of TV oratory I have ever seen.  I thought that this would launch Zell Miller as a major regional star for the Democrats. 

That turned out not to be, but was that really necessary?  Miller voted a somewhat conservative line as a Senator and he ended up endorsing Bush and being the opposition party's convention keynote speaker, but was that all not avoidable?  AFter all, Miller was the leading moderately progressive Governor of Georgia, the most liberal Governor since Ellis Arnall.  (Carl Sanders and Jimmy Carter were not liberals as Governor, although they did support the national Democratic Party and did not actively resist integration.) 

Should Zell Miller be viewed positively in history?

Georgia Democrat in 2022:
An excellent post, and I didn't know that Zell had largely reconciled with the Clinton "Brain Trust" before he passed away in 2018.  And that Hillary was the probably the force behind this rapprochement is not surprising.  In his two books during his Senate term (A National Party No More and A Deficit of Decency) in which he trashed the national Democratic Party (with some justification), he was quite complimentary to Hillary--thinking that she could have been President in 2008 (if only!).
He had a great sense of the political atmosphere in Georgia, and his nickname of Zig-Zag Zell made sense.  He moved to the right in his later years because of 9/11 and the pro-military tilt in the state.
Add to this his evolving pro-life stance and his general disgust with the national Democratic Party in the 2000s (though he did not name individual Democrats), and it was fairly easy to see why he backed Bush strongly in 2004.  But he did continue to support statewide Democrats at several levels--he backed Bob Clement in his losing Senate race to Lamar Alexander in Tennessee.  And he did support Michelle Nunn in the 2014 Senate race when she lost to David Perdue (though he endorsed Nathan Deal for re-election for governor).

He was an excellent governor, and I had the opportunity to tell him that in 1998 when my friend (who at the time was in the State House) took me to meet Zell at his office.  He was very gracious about my compliment and told me that he would take any opportunity he could to make life better for everyone in Georgia.   He knew about the hurdles he had to face in getting the lottery implemented (plenty of resistance) and changing the state flag (almost lost re-election in 1994 because of it).

I definitely didn't agree with all of his political moves (definitely not after 2003 and after his continued support of the Iraqi debacle).  But I would agree with Paul Begala that Zell Miller was the best governor that Georgia has produced (at least in the 30 years that I have lived here).  And it's good to know that the Clinton boys (Carville and Begala--who know how to play the game of politics) made peace with Zell at the end.


Mr.Barkari Sellers:
He was a Dixiecrat just like R C Byrd was Dixiecrat was the blue dog wing of the D party that affirmed Apartheid there aren't anymore of them but they aren't Secularist or Pragmatic as the D party is today, they used Judicial Restraint not Judicial Review to segregate blks

I guess his 2004 RNC speech hammering Kerry on national defense clearly helped Bush in winning 11 % of registered Democrats in 2004.



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