Highlights from Huckabee, Perdue, Reed and a wise rabbi

By Maria Saporta

A whirlwind of activities surround the opening of the legislative session and the annual events of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Since our esteemed media outlets will provide the straight-forward news, I thought I would share with you some of the highlights of these last couple of days (at least from my point of view).

First, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (and a former Republican presidential candidate) gave a mostly non-partisan speech as the keynoter on Monday evening at the Georgia Chamber’s annual meeting.

An aging rock ‘n’ roller

Huckabee, a hold-over from the days of rock-n-roll, started off talking about how he and former band mates had changed the titles of some old favorites to appeal to the baby-boomer generation.

Instead of: “How can you mend a broken heart” by the BeeGees, the new title was: “How can you mend a broken hip.”

Instead of the Beatles’ tune: “I get by with a little help from my friends,” it was: “I get by with a little help from Depends.”

Instead of Paul Simon’s “Fifty ways to leave your lover,” Huckabee said the new tune was: “Fifty ways to lose your liver.”

Procol Harum’s: “A whiter shade of pale” became: “A whiter shade of hair.”

And Willie Nelson’s “On the road again,” was renamed: “On the commode again.”

All laughs aside, Huckabee made a couple of points worth sharing.

Huckabee on arts education

First, he made a strong case for arts funding in education.

“This country has always been at its greatest when it created and innovated something,” Huckabee said, adding that to get a true total education, we needed to “put a renewed focus on music and the arts for every student…. An educational system has to include music and the arts if it’s going to be an effective and functional education system.”

That line actually received applause from the crowd.

Huckabee on health

Then Huckabee started talking about health care (with an obvious dislike for the current reform proposals underway in Washington).

“We have a health crisis, not a health care crisis,” Huckabee said, adding that our greatest costs are treating people with chronic ailments, largely of their own making.

Talking about crowds watching athletes at a football game, Huckabee said: “There are 70,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise. The are over-eating, under-exercising and smoking too much.”

Huckabee went on to say that 85 percent of our health care costs can be linked to treating those who are chronically ill.

“It starts with prevention, not intervention,” Huckabee said, adding that the goal should be to make “health care more accessible and affordable.”

Well, he does have a point.

But when he went on to talk against providing insurance coverage to those who currently don’t have it, he lost me.

The state and the city

A highlight from this morning’s Eggs & Issues breakfast was when Gov. Perdue acknowledged the welcome given by newly-elected Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

“Mayor, this state looks forward to working with its capital city, and thank you for your willingness as well,” Perdue said.

After the breakfast, Reed said he was pleased by the expression of support.

“It is consistent with the relationship we are working to develop,” he said. “We have talked, and we understand how important the city is to the state and how important the state is to the city. I think this morning will let everyone know we are going to have a strong partnership with the leadership of this state, and that Atlanta is going to be a part of it.”

Perdue dismissive of Barnes

In one of the more humorous moments (at the expense of former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat who lost to Perdue in 2002 and is now running for his old office), Perdue said that the public elects governors to a job they’ve never done before.

“It’s not as though they have been governor before, at least I hope not,” Perdue said, and then he made a parallel with the corporate world. “In business, you would not hire back a CEO you fired.”

Interestingly enough, from what I could tell, Barnes did not attend the breakfast unlike most of the other gubernatorial hopefuls.

Wise words from a rabbi

In my early week round-up, I have to say a real high point for me was hearing a most untraditional invocation from Rabbi Shalom Lewis of the Congregation Etz Chaim.

He told a tale of when a young boy asked his father how he could know the difference of doing what is right from doing what is wrong.

“The father said that if you go ‘aaaaah’ and follow that with an ‘oooh,’ it’s bad, but if you start with an ‘oooh’ and follow it with an ‘aaaah,’ you’re doing good,” he said.

And then Rabbi Lewis followed with an example.

“If you play this afternoon instead of studying for your test tomorrow, that’s an ‘aaah’ followed by an ‘oooh’ tomorrow when you fail the test. But if you study for the test today, that’s an ‘oooh,’ and then pass the test with A’s tomorrow, that’s an ‘aaah.’”

And in one of the wisest wishes for the day ever given, the rabbi told the breakfast crowd: “May you start today with an ‘oooh,’ but finish the day with an ‘aaah.’”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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