The U.S.’s recent experiment with a Senator-President has been disheartening—persuasive words unhinged to action and actual principles. There was a remarkable example of this in the President’s NSA speech, in fact, in a quote that would have been the Ethics Quote of the Month had it not been so cynical coming from him. The President said…
“Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect. For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power.”
Wonderful! If only this had been uttered by a leader with credibility and integrity, rather than one who has shrugged off, firing no one, interference with the federal election process by the IRS, illegal spying by the NSA, and the intentional facilitation of illegal firearms coming into the murderous hands of drug cartels by his Justice Department, after bombing Libya illegally in defiance of law, selectively enforcing immigration laws, using drones to kill American citizens abroad without due process, making recess appointments when the Senate wasn’t in recess, and more recently, unconstitutionally amending the ACA on his own after it was signed into law.
This was all foretold, however. Community organizers and senators make speeches and inspire people, but unfortunately seldom have a clue how to actually govern unless, as Obama himself has wistfully noted, they have absolute power. This is why, in theory, at least, state governors, who at least have experience governing, now seem like a better recruitment field for the next occupant of the Oval Office. It sounds good in the abstract, but the recent news from the state houses is like ice water in the face—-
- In New Jersey…we learn from an op-ed by MSNBC’s most respectable talking head, Rachel Maddow, Republican Governor Chris Christie laid the foundation for his spite bridge-closing scandal by appointing a high school classmate of dubious character to head the Port Authority. Maddow writes:
“According to reporting in The Record, [David ] Wildstein has made a habit of buying the Web addresses of people who cross his path in New Jersey politics — including the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2012 and a mid-level official at the Federal Aviation Administration who helped forge a firefighting agreement with the Port Authority that Wildstein disliked. While he was at the Port Authority, Wildstein bought the online names of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top appointees to the agency, including Executive Director Pat Foye, who sounded the alarm about the Fort Lee scheme. Wildstein’s redirect on PatFoye.com sends visitors to the website of the New York Yankees. It’s one thing for public officials to subject one another to that kind of low-level, neener-neener harassment, but in New Jersey, reporters have been targeted too. Wildstein snatched up and redirected ShawnBoburg.com after Boburg wrote a (not terribly unflattering) profile of the intensely private Wildstein last year and an article on Christie’s patronage hiring.”
Wait...what?? This nut-case, Maddow reports, buys the website addresses that could be made from his supposed enemies’ names and then directs those who log-on to other websites, like that of the New York Yankees. Why would a responsible governor appoint such a person to any post? How could he? Someone with this kind of warped judgment and nasty inclinations is guaranteed to cause problems both practical and political. I thought Chris Chistie was supposed to be smart and know how to govern, which means, for one thing, not to give vicious wackos power because you had high school gym class with them. Guess not.
- In New York…Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo told a radio interviewer this regarding “extreme Republicans”;
“Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”
Observe, ladies and gentlemen, the perfect illustration of the famous “no true Scotsman” logical fallacy. Those holding views Cuomo disagrees with don’t belong in New York, because by definition, those holding those views are not New Yorkers! So much for pluralism, tolerance, respect for opposing views, and democracy: Governor Cuomo has declared that lock-step ideological homogeneity is the New York way, and if you disagree, you’re no New Yorker and should just get the hell out. Funny, it used to be the Right that resorted to “love it or leave it” and “if you don’t like our way, why don’t you go back to where you came from?” as its all-purpose rebuttal to dissenting voices. Now, increasingly, it’s the Left. Cuomo’s quote, meanwhile, has singular significance as the calling card of a jerk.
Now, Cuomo left himself plenty of wiggle-room for Clintonesque (Hey, look at that! WordPress spellcheck thinks that “Clintonesque” is a mispelling of “Flintstones”!) dissembling, and I’m sure he’ll take it. For example, I’m sure he’ll argue that he was only calling for the exile of those who advocate all of the positions he derided and only in the extreme forms he meant to suggest: no abortion under any conditions, assault weapons as available as beef jerky, and gays rounded up and forced to endure “Clockwork Orange”-style behavior-modification training supervised by Michele Bachmann. Uh-huh. The fact is that no respectable American leader should talk like this, ever.
- In Virginia…it didn’t take long at all for newly sworn-in Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe to remind voters why having to vote for an infamous Camp Clinton sleaze over an uber-conservative Republican radical from the corrupt McDonnell administration was like the T-Rex rescuing the heroes from the raptors in “Jurassic Park.” From the Washington Post:
“Boyd Marcus, a prominent figure in Virginia politics for two decades, made headlines in August when he abandoned a lifetime of supporting Republicans to endorse Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor. McAuliffe’s team and Marcus trumpeted the conversion as an important political sign that mainstream Republicans were rejecting the tea party conservatism espoused by GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli II. Instead, we learned Thursday, the primary motive was entirely mercenary. An e-mail was made public showing that 16 days before announcing he was backing McAuliffe, Marcus had offered to work for Cuccinelli if the Republican agreed to pay him “something in the range of $75,000 -$100,000.” In other words, Marcus was perfectly willing to work for Cuccinelli — whose politics he then spent the rest of the campaign decrying — if the price were right. When Cuccinelli’s campaign turned him down, Marcus followed the greenbacks. His firm received $40,000 in consulting fees from the McAuliffe campaign in four payments from September to November, according to Virginia disclosure statements….But the story has another chapter. It seems that the $40,000 was only a down payment for Marcus’s turnabout. McAuliffe has created the first controversy of his new administration by appointing Marcus to a well-paid position as a member of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The ABC post is one of the state’s most lucrative patronage slots, having paid an annual salary in the past of between $124,000 and $136,000. Marcus did not respond to phone calls and e-mails requesting comment. McAuliffe pushed back against the criticism in an interview Friday, telling the Associated Press, “Am I not supposed to appoint Republicans who, you know, honestly had the courage to step out and endorse me?”
Don’t you just love that response? McAuliffe pays the guy to turn on his party, rewards him with a high-paying job, and salutes his honesty and courage? Get ready, Virginia: McDonnell was a bumbling, inept player of the graft and slime poloitical games. Your current governor is a master at it. As the Post writer, Robert McCartney, points out,
“First, one of McAuliffe’s principal challenges as governor is to overcome his image as a political wheeler-dealer from years of work as a campaign fundraiser and partisan operator. Also, he’s pledged to set a new ethical tone in Richmond after the gifts scandal that embroiled former governor Bob McDonnell (R). The Marcus controversy “confirms the worst perceptions that people have about politics, in both high and low places, which is that individual people are getting something personally from it, and there are all these deals being cut, and there are all these backs being scratched,” said Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.”
Still, recent and historical experience tells us that governors are still better bets to be effective Presidents than Senators.
Isn’t that depressing…
Sparks: Instapundit, Althouse