ZACHARY: Promising transparency doesn't make it so

DomeLight by Jim Zachary 

Filling a U.S. Senate seat should not be a dog and pony show or an opportunity for political grandstanding. 

But that is exactly what it has become with Gov. Brian Kemp’s online application process. 

Casting the wide net to find the right person to fill the vacated seat of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson may seem like an open, transparent, public process but who is kidding whom? 

Does anyone really think the Kemp team does not already know the name of Isakson’s successor?  

Being open and transparent is not only desirable it should be the normal course of government, but pandering to a political base and claiming transparency is a ruse. The public is not that gullible. 

Telling anyone who dreams of being a U.S. senator to simply “apply” by filling out an online application and they will be fairly considered for the post is not only disingenuous, it is borderline disgraceful. 

And get this: Anyone can go online and review every single application. A quick look shows quite a range of relevant experience and the lack thereof. 

Let’s be honest, this will be a high-profile, Republican appointment to a Republican-held seat, by a Republican governor and no one should expect anything else. 

And that is not unreasonable. 

In fact, it is exactly what one would expect. 

The actual field of viable appointees is small and Gov. Kemp already knows that. 

Why go through all of this unless it truly is open to all? 

Perhaps it makes for good political theater. 

It just does not make for good governance. 

By Kemp’s own admission, he has a deep bench to go to so why spend the time and resources of professional staff in the governor’s office, vetting applications from candidates who are not really going to be seriously considered? 

Rest assured, this seat will go to a person with a name that is instantly recognizable in the state of Georgia. 

It will not be a neophyte, an up and comer or a heretofore unknown future star of the Republican party who fills out an online application. 

It would be nice to think that the process could be that open, transparent and accessible, but it just isn’t. 

State and federal partisan politics is a machine, a finely tuned, well-oiled machine. 

Political appointments are always political. 

It may sound cynical, but that’s the way it works. 

To use the most overused phrase in the English language during the past decade, it is what it is.

Kemp certainly has created a lot of buzz and generated a lot headlines by announcing this online application process for a U.S. Senate seat and maybe that was the only intention. 

Rest assured, whoever is appointed to fill out the unexpired term of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has big shoes to fill.

There is only one Johnny Isakson and we are not likely to find another one on Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn or a state government website application portal. 

CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is CNHI’s regional editor for its Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Texas newspapers and editor for The Valdosta Daily Times. He is vice president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. 

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