Examining the Zell factor in '08

I've been curious, in recent days, to see which of the current presidential candidates are beginning to receive endorsements from other political figures.

As I've said before, I have no use for celebrity endorsements, but endorsements by political figures are another matter entirely.

It amused me when I found out that Sen. John Kerry would be throwing his support behind U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's bid for the Oval Office, as opposed to Kerry's former running mate, Sen. John Edwards.

I don't know whether Kerry forgot, like some citizens have likely done, that Edwards was still running, or if he just decided Edwards was good enough to be vice president once upon a time, but not good enough to be president now. At any rate, it was good for a laugh.

Speaking of former vice presidential candidates, I found out not too long ago that Sen. Joseph Lieberman is supporting Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. I know it's not terribly surprising to some people that Lieberman again crossed party lines, but it certainly makes things interesting to me, particularly since very little about this presidential race has done that. At this point, I'm looking for anything I can find that will hold my interest.

The Kennedys recently announced their support for Obama, and it made big news. Whether you love them or hate them, the Kennedy family still has a powerful voice in politics.

That brings me to someone who, as far as I know, hasn't announced his support for anyone running for president thus far, but who still has a voice that is capable of generating support - former U.S. Senator and Georgia governor, Zell Miller.

I met Miller a few years ago, at a signing of his book, "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat." Aside from the fact that there was just something about a politician who wore cowboy boots that appealed to me, I became very interested, as many in America did four years ago, in Miller's opinions on the state of politics today.

I even managed to read his lengthy book, which probably surprised no one more than it surprised me. The idea that I would voluntarily read a book penned by someone who, for years, aligned himself with ideals I disagreed with, was preposterous to me. Nevertheless, I read the book, and I agreed with a lot of what Miller had to say.

It's been a few years since that meeting, and about four years since Miller did what was previously unthinkable, and addressed a crowd of rabid supporters at the 2004 Republican National Convention. We don't hear much from Miller these days, but I'm oddly intrigued as to what he would say about the candidates that are still in the running.

Would he triumphantly announce his support for Obama? I tend to doubt it, but in politics, you never know.

Would he advocate Gov. Mitt Romney as being what the country needs for the next four years? I have no idea.

All I know for sure is that the last two presidential elections have generated some of the largest voter turnouts in history. Somehow, I don't think it's because John Kerry was full of personality. Someone out there made voters care about what was going on, enough to make their voices heard.

Granted, one person can't do it all, whether it's Zell Miller, or Joe Lieberman, or anyone else. I'm not saying I'd blindly support the candidate for whom Miller decides to campaign. But, I do think the endorsement of someone like Miller would go a long way, in some people's minds, toward helping people who are on the fence.

Some people might vote for whoever Miller supports. Some might vote for another candidate because they would rather cringe than side with the former senator. All I know for sure is, Miller making his voice heard will likely make others do the same. That's a good thing, regardless of how you look at it.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161, or via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.