Dick Yarbrough: Casey Cagle forgets cardinal rule of politics

Published 10:32 am Wednesday, June 20, 2018

There is the story about the preacher who was hard at work saving souls at a tent revival. One person said he had coveted his neighbor’s wife and was remorseful. “Hallelujah, my child, you are forgiven!” the preacher cried. Another confessed he had once stolen a loaf of bread from the local grocer. “Hallelujah,” said the preacher, “You are forgiven!” On and on it went with confessions and forgiveness until one man suddenly jumps up and yells, “I kissed a goat.” There was a complete silence in the audience. The preacher looked at him and said quietly, “Son, I don’t think I would have told that.”
Which brings me to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. As you no doubt know by now, Cagle told Republican primary foe Clay Tippins a lot of stuff he should have left unsaid in a secretly recorded conversation, including that he had pushed the passage of a bill he described as bad “a thousand different ways” so that another primary opponent, former state Sen. Hunter Hill, wouldn’t get a chunk of change, reputed to be between $2-3 million, from Alice the Walmart Lady, aka, the Walton Foundation.
Alice and her cronies seem to know what is best for public education in Georgia and have ol’ Sam Walton’s money to prove it. The bill in question is the latest attack on public education in Georgia by deep-pocketed, out-of-state special interest groups. The “bad policy” bill raises the cap on credits for private school scholarships from $58 million to $100 million, siphons a like amount out of the state treasury and gives the back of the hand to Georgia’s beleaguered public schoolteachers.
Casey Cagle forgot the cardinal rule of politics: Never write what you can say. Never say what you can nod. Never nod what you can wink. He would have been better served to do a lot more nodding and winking and a lot less talking. Instead, he showed to one and all that he wants to be governor so badly that he would not only confess to kissing a goat, he wouldn’t even ask forgiveness if he thought it would secure him the goat’s vote.
Cagle told Tippens (or rather the cellphone hidden in his pocket) it “ain’t about public policy. It’s about (expletive) politics.” Give the man credit for telling it like it is. Public policy be damned. Show me the (expletive) money. And we wonder why the public is turned off by politics and politicians?
Some of Cagle’s media sycophants have tried to put the blame on Clay Tippins for secretly recording the event, no doubt blissfully ignorant of the “don’t write what you can say and don’t say what you can nod, etc. etc.” rule. They also overlooked the inherent dangers of screwing around with a Navy SEAL. They are lucky they didn’t get stuffed head-first in a trash can along with Alice the Walmart Lady.
The only person who comes out of this not smelling like barnyard poop is state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, Clay Tippins’ uncle and chair of the Senate Education Committee, who has been a strong ally of Cagle’s, but who could not or would not sell out his integrity in order to keep Hunter Hill from getting Alice the Walmart Lady’s loot. Casey Cagle called him “a man of principle,” which is about the only thing he said in that conversation that didn’t need to be disinfected.
Cagle’s campaign manager, Scott Binkley, told the Atlanta newspapers that Sen. Tippins “stonewalled” his boss’ education efforts. Oh, please. Casey Cagle himself brags on the tape that he and the senator “had beaten it to a pulp” in previous years, meaning the private scholarship scheme.
Will the lieutenant governor survive his severe case of diarrhea mouth in the July 24 runoff? A lot depends on whether his Republican opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, will get off his Hee-Haw schtick long enough to convince voters that his moral compass points truer than does Casey Cagle’s.
The best thing Cagle has going for him right now is the employ of one of the best communications advisers in the business. Brian Robinson was Gov. Nathan Deal’s communications director and a talented young man for whom I have the highest regard. If anyone can get this political train wreck back on track, it is Robinson. He might just accomplish that and in doing so, help elect as governor a man we may never again be able to trust to do the right things for the right reasons.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.