It was just another betrayal by a man who had abandoned his party, responded Bobby Kahn, the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, regarding the keynote speech given by Georgia Senator Zell Miller Wednesday night.
Kahn spoke to 11Alive News early Wednesday evening after reading excerpts of the Miller speech released in advance of his address.
ANGRY MAN 'WHO STAYED ON THE PLAYING FIELD TOO LONG'
Democratic Sen. Zell Miller, of Georgia, gives the keynote address at the Republican National Convention Wednesday, Sept.1, 2004, in New York. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“It looks to me like more negative attacks by a bitter man who has turned on his principles and his friends at the end of his career,” he said.
After his 16-year tenure as Georgia’s lieutenant governor and eight years at the post of governor, Miller, a lifelong Democrat, retired from politics in 1998 as one of the most popular politicians in state history.
He returned to political life in 2000, appointed and then elected to fill the seat of Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell after he died during his time in office.
Upon election to the Senate, Miller promised that he would act along bipartisan lines, but Democrats were shocked when that included support for the Bush administration’s tax cuts and the confirmation of John Ashcroft as attorney general.
The shock turned to anger when Miller endorsed Bush’s re-election earlier this year.
“The bottom line is, after watching all this and reflecting on Senator Miller’s acts over the last two years, all I can really is that he is a great warrior who simply stayed on the playing field too long,” Kahn said.
Miller maintains his positions viewed as Republican were once those held dear by the Democratic Party. The senator, in various media interviews, has said that the Democratic Party shifted to the Left and strayed from its moderate roots.
"The Democratic Party has changed, not me. Seventy-two-year-old men don't change very much,” Miller recently said.
Kahn disputed that charge and said, “The Republican Party is more conservative than it was 12 years ago [when Miller endorsed Clinton]. Senator Miller is supporting a president that ballooned the federal deficit -– that’s not conservative, not conservative at all.”
“The parties have become increasingly polarized over the last few years,” said Michael Binford, a political scientist at Georgia State University. “The Republicans are more conservative and the Democrats are more liberal.”
Neal Boortz, a Libertarian commentator, said all of the parties had shifted more to the Left.
“The Republicans are what the Democrats were 30 years ago, the Democrats are what the Socialists were, and the Libertarians are what the Republicans were,” he said.
Asked to explain Miller’s positions and his criticism of the Democrats, Kahn said, “I really don’t know. I can’t answer that. I wish I could. I’ve thought a lot about it,” he said. “You’re asking for a rational assessment of the senator’s motives and his reasons are irrational and inaccurate. Any kind of analysis like that is futile.”
“I don’t think he has abandoned the party, I think he’s just bemoaning it,” Binford said.
© 2004 11Alive.com.