Zell Miller mostly stays in the hills these days, living in a house made out of stones that his mother hauled from the creek one rock at a time. The world down in the valley isn’t his anymore. Old friends have left the stage. Country music is too sophisticated. Infielders can’t turn a double play and, when politicians speak, they put the audience to sleep.
The last time we saw each other he was at Madison Square Garden, the only Democrat in an arena full of elephants. We passed on an escalator. He was going up and I was going down. When we caught up with each other it didn't take long to know he was in one of his petulant moods.
A young caretaker from Laura Bush's staff was taking him all over Manhattan and she didn't understand that the old Marine didn't want to be late and didn't tolerate those who were. She hadn't fed him either, which also didn't help his disposition.
The lifelong Democrat came to the Republican National Convention to make history. In that same hall, he had nominated Bill Clinton for president in 1992. Twelve years later he delivered the keynote address for George W. Bush, and Republicans didn't know what to make of his twang or his politics.
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Before he went to bed that night, Zell told the world he was disappointed with his party, that he was supporting the Republican ticket, and for good measure he challenged commentator Chris Matthews to a duel.
Last week he made a rare public appearance, and typically Zell had a zinger. He supported Democrat Michelle Nunn's race for the U.S. Senate but endorsed Republican Nathan Deal's re-election campaign for governor.
He's 82 years old and his health has been zigging and zagging. But viewing a video of his remarks, I caught the inimitable sizzle. Old friends say he broke their hearts by the way he has flipped and flopped, but isn't that why they loved him?
Zell Miller has never walked the line. When I was writing his biography there were moments he wanted to be the author. He was cranky, but he was willing to say he was sorry if he wronged you. Recently, he has been inviting old friends to Young Harris to tell them he loves them.
And this old Georgian misses him.
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.