Earlier today a friend and I had a bit of a debate over the severity of Nick’s transgression, as well as what the proper response by Perdue would be. He was of the opinion that Perdue standing by his campaign manager showed loyalty, and said, “While this was stupid of Ayers, if this is the only issue, I don’t think that you fire him over it.”
I disagree. I tend to side with Andre in his opinion of DUI in the first place; I think that it’s one of the most severely underpunished common offenses we have — and I live in Athens, so it’s not exactly something I’m unfamiliar with.
In 2005, 545 people were killed by impaired drivers in Georgia — 31% of the 1,742 total motor vehicle fatalities, and far too often it was not the impaired driver, but innocent road-sharers who were killed. The Governor’s office of Highway Safety ran “Operation Zero Tolerance” in 2006 (we’ve all seen the commercials ad nauseum). Regarding the program, GOHS Director Bob Dallas said, “This year…the public will begin hearing a new get-tough slogan for our law enforcement partners: “DRUNK DRIVING. OVER THE LIMIT. UNDER ARREST.” Drunk drivers need to remember, with so many lives at stake, Georgia’s ready to fight impaired driving with more than slogans.” Now that someone so close to the Governor has been caught violating this, all eyes are on him to see if “zero tolerance” actually means that, or if it was just a slogan and a rule for the rest of us.
Keeping Nick around may show loyalty, and may speak to second chances — but it also gives the impression that Governor Perdue takes this offense less than seriously, and that he is willing to continue to surround himself — at the highest levels of his campaign — with people who neither have regard for the law, nor for others’ safety.
Call it moralizing or preaching, but I think that “zero tolerance” has to mean just that — so I think that Nick has to go, both as a consequence of his actions, and as a means for Perdue to continue to be taken seriously on law enforcement, as well as — and perhaps more importantly — on values and morality. If Nick stays, I think he loses credibility on every one of these issues, big-time, and the term “zero tolerance” can be flushed along with that credibility.
But then again, I could be overreaching on this. What do you think?