Originally created 05/02/04

D.A.'s exit is indictment of Democratic party



When asked why he's no longer a Democrat, District Attorney Danny Craig doesn't just answer.

He issues an indictment.

"I detected a culture of resentment (in the Democratic Party) toward our legal system and our capitalistic economy, combined with apparent disdain for the concepts of family, faith and individual responsibility," he told me.

Those are some pretty serious charges.

But the veteran prosecutor knows how to build a case.

He's never forgotten, for instance, the fact that Senate Democrats essentially determined that committing perjury - as President Clinton did - was not a serious offense at all.

Of course, if the promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth isn't important, what other oaths are dispensable?

CRAIG ALSO HASN'T forgiven Georgia Democrats for fighting the ban on video poker, which the prosecutor called "one of the worst social cancers to ever invade Georgia."

Earlier this year, the Democratic leadership of the Georgia House singlehandedly nullified an overwhelming House sentiment in favor of giving prosecutors an equal number of "jury strikes" as defense attorneys.

Currently, defense lawyers can remove twice as many jurors as the prosecution can. Why in the world? Nowhere in the presumption of innocence doctrine does it require the prosecution - which already has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt - to have its hands tied as early as jury selection. It's ridiculous.

Democrats stand foursquare behind criminal defendants - not the innocent victims of Georgia.

You might understand how that would get under a prosecutor's skin.

It also bothered Craig when Richmond County Democratic Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum excoriated the FBI after a raid at the offices of former state Sen. Charles Walker, a Democratic heavyweight. Greenbaum accused the FBI of "treading on democracy" - notably, Craig said, "without even knowing what the application for the search warrant alleged."

CRAIG'S INDICTMENT of his former party could contain many more particulars, he says, including the party's own "newsletters and other literature" and "manifestations of their extremist activities ..."

Nor could the national party's knee-jerk embrace of gay marriage after the Massachusetts court ruling have endeared the party to conservative, spiritual members such as Craig.

"Because my value system and personal beliefs have always been conservative," Craig said, "serving as a Democrat was quite easy when the Democratic Party was influenced by conservatives.

"However, the conservatives are less and less welcome in the party (and shrinking rapidly in numbers) as it moves toward more extreme positions that do not reflect the value system of mainstream Americans.

"So, for several years, as events occurred in the party nationally, as well as on the state and local level, I have continually asked myself whether I could continue to reconcile my philosophy to that of the changing Democratic Party."

We know the answer now.

And it's quite an indictment indeed.

ALL ACROSS the South, conservative Democrats are questioning their party affiliation. In many cases, they no doubt have been Democrats simply because that's what they've always been - and that's what daddy was, and his daddy before him.

And, of course, historically in order to win certain offices, you had to run as a Democrat. That's just the way it was.

That's not the way it is anymore.

The district attorney's job isn't highly political - but it's one of the most powerful offices in local government. It's got to hurt Democrats to lose the seat without a vote even being cast.

Except for Craig's vote, which he has cast with his feet.

(Editor's note: The writer is editorial page editor of The Augusta Chronicle.)