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Saturday, January 29, 2005

My Meeting with Marty

Here is an update for you BJU folks out there. I wanted to let you know how my visit with the UCLA doctoral student went. We'll know for sure when we get a chance to read his dissertation! Until then, I'll think the best.

Marty was a regular guy. I guess I am getting old. Here is this fellow who has spent the last eight years working on his doctorate in Political Science and he looked as old as me - at best. Actually, he still had his hair!

He arrived around 11:30 AM on Thursday. The funny thing is that I had my calendar confused and was looking for him on Wednesday. It made for a very hectic Wednesday, as I also had to deal with a Japanese reporter who was coming on the campus. What a relief it was to realize that I didn’t have to deal with two groups at the same time!

Back to Marty... The first thing we did was to go to the faculty dining area for lunch. I had a sudden panic when I realized that Marty might be Jewish - his last name is Cohen. I checked out the first plate I saw as we walked in. I was hoping it wouldn't be pork barbeque or something like that! Ah, chicken broccoli bake! No pork and one of my favorite dishes.

We talked about what Marty hoped to learn while in Greenville. I took comfort in the fact that he stayed on topic. I felt more and more sure this wasn't one of those Al Franken situations. I really enjoyed the conversation. We talked much more about politics in South Carolina than we did about BJU.

After lunch I took him on a tour of the campus. We continued our talk about local politics. It would appear that he wanted to focus on a few congressional districts across the country and how they shifted from one party to another. He was particularly interested in the last Democratic elected in the 4th District - Liz Patterson and the final victor for the Republicans with Bob Inglis.

He had already spoken with Ted Adams (former Republican and now Constitution Party member) and former Mayor Bill Workman. Once he left BJU, he was headed over to talk to current Mayor Knox White. Then he planned to leave for Columbia today (I hope the ice didn't trap him).

After our tour we went to talk with Dr. Bob Taylor who is a current member of the Greenville County Council and also a Dean at BJU. Here is a guy who has been deeply involved in Greenville County politics since the early '70s. I knew he would be an ideal person for Marty to speak with. I wasn't wrong. They sat there and talked about the campaigns of the '80s and '90s like old friends.

Once that interview was over, I walked Marty over to the bookstore on campus and said goodbye.

I don't know if Marty learned much, but I sure did. I am reminded of how things are beginning to change now in Greenville politics. It is obvious that the GOP that sprang up out of the grassroots activism of the mid-seventies is splintering. In some ways, it is a microcosm of what is happening across the entire country.

I wonder what Marty thinks about it?


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