Bookman: Georgia’s junior senator misplaces his outrage

President Donald Trump and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) in the White House in August, 2017. (Photo by Zach Gibson - Pool/Getty Images)

That’s outrageous,” U.S. Sen. David Perdue said last month, responding to a controversy over tweets in which President Trump attacked four female members of Congress.

To Perdue, it wasn’t outrageous that Trump told those four women of color to “go back” to the “crime-infested places from which they came,” as if they didn’t belong here, as if they were less than real Americans. It wasn’t outrageous that all four women are U.S. citizens, and that three of the four were born and raised right in this country.

No, what outraged Perdue, what got him angry, was the suggestion that Trump’s tweets were racist in any way. So let me add to the senator’s outrage: Those tweets by the president were racist to the core. They were racist in meaning; they were racist in intent. Those are slurs directed at people of color, and only at people of color, to diminish them and keep them in their place.

Trump, for example, is the child of an immigrant, in his case an immigrant from Scotland. But because he is white, his citizenry and place in America are presumed to be valid and automatic, while second-generation Americans of color enjoy no such presumption.

Other Georgia Republicans – at least some of them – recognized the ugly message in Trump’s words and tried to back away from it. Sen. Johnny Isakson called them “totally inappropriate.”

“I wasn’t elected to make excuses or explain the statements of somebody else, and so I’m just not going to do that,” Isakson said. That’s not exactly a stirring condemnation, but it’s something.

In a sense, I’m glad that Perdue has taken this stance, because it clarifies the stakes. Few elected politicians in Washington have been more worshipful of Trump than Georgia’s junior senator. At every turn, in every Trump-manufactured crisis, Perdue has defended the indefensible and excused the inexcusable on behalf of the man whom he calls “an American Churchill.”

And next year, an election looms. An election in which politicians can be held accountable for what they’ve said and done. An election in which the state of Georgia and the entire United States will either validate or reject the direction in which the likes of Trump and Perdue want to take us. An election in which we tell the world and each other who we really are, as a state, as a nation, as a people, and also what we aspire to become in the future.

Perdue is betting that we are still the Georgia of 1968, when a third-party candidate and racist by the name of George Wallace carried the state in the presidential election. He is betting that despite demographic and economic change, the embers of fear and resentment can again be fanned into a hatred so blinding that voters will ignore tax cuts that were handed out to billionaires and corporations, that they will overlook Perdue’s talk of “saving” Medicare and Social Security by slashing benefits, that they will re-elect leaders committed to stripping health insurance from millions.

I look at the numbers, and I look at my fellow Georgians, and I think he’s going to lose that bet. Last year, in an off-year election when Republicans are presumed to have an advantage, a black woman came within 55,000 votes and 1.4 percentage points of becoming Georgia’s governor. Next year, with both Trump and the sycophantic Perdue on the ballot to be affirmed or rejected, with our choices clarified beyond real doubt, I think we break with our past and the future arrives.

“The truth is incontrovertible,” as the real Winston Churchill once said. “Malice may attack it; ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

37 COMMENTS

  1. “The truth is incontrovertible”. LOL which “truth”, yours or mine?

    I’m on the opposing side, but always enjoyed reading your work. See, we do not have to agree on politics to be civil.

    Good to see you back with your personal opinions. Now, do your part in helping control the civility of debate.

    Regards,
    Mary

  2. Perdue is the reason I made my first ever political donation (to Nunn) for all the reasons you describe.
    Back in 2014, he was obviously a person whose primary purpose was to further policies that are not in the best interest of most Georgians and he is nearly as amoral as Trump, IMO.

  3. Great to be reading your columns again! I’ve missed them! Thank you for calling out Purdue as no friend to the citizens of Georgia.
    Loved your article today! Looking forward to many more!

  4. How good it is to read the weekly insights of columnist Jay Bookman, once again. Bookman delivers truth unfettered to Georgians, as always, wrapped in his gifted writing style.

    Here is my response to Bookman’s take on Georgia’s junior Senator David Perdue and on President Donald Trump, as they both face Georgia’s voters in next year’s election – unless you are in complete denial of political truth, you will wisely vote David Perdue and Donald Trump out of office as public servants of the people, which neither has been anyway, imo.

  5. Thanks, Jay. We need more
    focus on this reprehensibly retro Georgia politician. Georgia’s blue and moderate voters need to step up and remove him.

  6. Amen, Jay. Donald Trump has never said, “Go back to your country,” to his perpetual Twitter target, WHITE Nancy Pelosi.

  7. “Last year, in an off-year election when Republicans are presumed to have an advantage, a black woman came within 55,000 votes and 1.4 percentage points of becoming Georgia’s governor.”

    I guess we’ll see how much election tampering Brian Kemp will get away with, too.

  8. There it is… Excellent writing…I hope GA wakes up. I hope that white citizens let go of hatred, economic anxiety and the “he/she is too liberal philosophy” that holds them back. I am going to remain hopeful until the election results tell me other wise

  9. Plus, voters know the playbook. They know to register early, ensure they are registered and have proper ID to know that their votes will count.

  10. Does posting links work here?
    Well, here goes.

    My PSA:
    If you are a Georgia resident, eligible to vote, and you have not registered you can do that here (in order to register online, you must have a photo ID on file with the State of Georgia) …
    https://registertovote.sos.ga.gov/
    …and the process is pretty straight forward. Also, registered voters can use this site to verify their voting status.

  11. Welcome back, Jay. Nice to see you writing again.

    I hope you are right. I hope Perdue loses bigly. But I think he will win. This is Georgia, after all. In the Age of Trump.

  12. Abrams “lost” because of gerrymandering and voter suppression by our “governor.” Do we have the will and the power to generate a turnout that will overcome those odds and boot out Perdue? And the “president”? #VoteBlueNoMatterWho

  13. As always, excellent and insightful column, Jay! It’s great to be able to read your opinions via this new venue! Your commentary has been sorely missed since your retirement from the AJC. Many, many thanks!

  14. How wonderful to read your words again. I have followed you on Twit, but it’s never enough to satisfy. Best wishes for more to come!

  15. (Looking disgusted and slowly shaking my head) Jay, Jay, Jay…

    *Just practicing, Dude. Glad to see you back on the playing field.

  16. Don’t you need to take the full context of his comment to interpret the intent. He said to go back, fix their issues and come back and show us how to do it. Claiming it is all racist sounds more like you are hearing it with your bent.

    • “all four women are U.S. citizens, and that three of the four were born and raised right in this country.”
      Where do you suggest that those three who were born and raised here “go back” to?
      Perhaps you should read through the entire article BEFORE commenting.
      Just sayin’.

    • I so agree Norman Johnson. I have told folks in my church and my neighborhood to go somewhere else if they don’t like the situation. Does that make me racist? I think not. I think the media wants to paint Trump and his supporters as ignorant racists because the media favors profit over truth. It is apparently not politically correct to have ones own opinion on any issue, at any time if that opinion opposes the democratic or media agendas.

  17. So thrilled you have a new platform for your opinion pieces! You are spot in your take on Trump & Perdue & how they need to be held accountable. How I want believe your prediction about voters in GA, but then I never believed the country would elect a man like Trump president, so I have little confidence in any predictions. But, for what it’s worth, I promise you I will work like crazy to get out the vote to prove you right!

  18. It’s amazing how when citizens use their critical thinking skills and critique the people who are supposed to work for us that they’re the ones labeled as radicals.

  19. I join the chorus of happy readers to find Jay Bookman back on an opinion page. I look forward to reading your take on state news and the impact US congressmen and senators have on our state.

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