Floor and Committee Statements

“Mr. President, I will be very brief for the Senator from Delaware so I am not taking up too much time.

“I am here to do something very special. One of the great things we get to do is to pay tribute to people who do great things in our state. We don’t brag about journalists as much as we should. They think we are saying bad things about them, but they are great. They make the country better. The fact that we have an accountable media makes us all great. There are superstars within the media who deserve acknowledgment, particularly when they retire from the job. In Georgia, that has been the case.

“Dick Williams, in Atlanta, Ga., announced on Sunday that after 53 years in print, television, and radio journalism, he is going to retire. Dick has covered me over many years. He has been known as a conservative columnist, but he has gone after me as many times as he has been for me. He plays it straight down the middle unless it has to do with basketball--and he loves basketball. He has been chosen to referee in the conference championship for the state’s high schools and has been a great sportsman for Georgetown University, for which he recruits athletes. He himself went to Georgetown.

“Rebecca, his wife, was in the Georgia House as a reporter when I was in the Georgia House years ago. She is a talented house person who went on to ABC. She and Dick got married, and they have two children. They live in Brookhaven, Ga., which is a new city that was created by the Georgia Legislature to allow independence for a lot of our cities that had been trapped inside the metro area.

“His wife has been a reporter of journalism, and Dick has been a reporter of journalism. Then Dick bought the Dunwoody Crier. The Dunwoody Crier is one of those weekly publications--neighborhood newspapers--that everybody loves because it has their kids’ pictures in it, because you can get a story about your wedding in there, and because Dick also writes in there some poignant columns that one would never read anywhere else.

“When he wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he wrote for a newspaper that was owned by Eugene Patterson, by Ralph McGill, and by many talented writers. He was in the same category of spokesman and writer as those two gentlemen, who were giants, with McGill's having won a Pulitzer Prize.

“Dick is one of the most favorite people I have ever known who reported on politics because he was always doing it for the right reasons. There are projects that have happened in our State today because Dick Williams took the power of the press not to trash something but to build up the facts that allowed it to pass. A lot of times, that doesn’t happen, but when Dick saw a good deal, he would go for it, and when he saw a bad deal, he would go for it. Either way, you could take his word for it all the time because he was what is known in the profession as a straight shooter.

“Dick Williams is a very special individual to me and my family. He did 1,700 shows called ‘The Georgia Gang.’ Every Sunday, at 8:30 in the morning, for 30 minutes, every politician in Georgia watches channel 5 in Atlanta because that is ‘The Georgia Gang.’ If you make it by that, your week is going to be pretty good because they haven’t skewered you for something stupid that you did, but if you don’t make it by that, you are going to have a tough week.

“Dick Williams is the kind of journalist all of us love--accurate, articulate, smart, and caring about what he does and the effect it may have. It is a real pleasure for me to stand on the floor of the U.S. Senate and say, Dick, thank you for the 1,700 great 30-minute shows you have done in your past.

“Thank you for all of the straight calls you made on the basketball court. Thank you for marrying Rebecca, who is a wonderful woman. Thank you for welcoming Lori Geary as your replacement every Sunday morning at 8:30. I now know, when I get up on Sundays, I will be going to church not with Dick Williams but with Lori Geary.

“God bless you, Dick. Thanks for your contribution to Georgia.

“I yield the floor.”