Congressional Democrats have been discovering, after 12 years out of power, that actually governing is a lot harder and less fun than griping from the cheap seats; but as long as George W. Bush is in the White House, they retain a convenient scapegoat for the gap between their rhetoric and reality.
Democratic governors, the numbers of which have proliferated in recent years, have no such luxury; having sold the pie in the sky, they actually have to bake it. I’ve been warning of this since the spring in regard to tax hikes, and Eliot Spitzer’s disastrous illegal-immigrant-driver’s license plan is only one of many other examples of Democratic governors reminding people why there were so many Republican incumbents in the first place.
Add now the Chicago Tribune to the list of the disenchanted, to the point of arguing that the Rod Blagojevich era demonstrates why Illinois needs a mechanism to recall a governor:
The bill of particulars against Rod Blagojevich is numbingly familiar. His is a legacy of federal and state investigations of alleged cronyism and corruption in the steering of pension fund investments to political donors, in the subversion of state hiring laws, in the awarding of state contracts, in matters as personal as that mysterious $1,500 check made out to the governor’s then-7-year-old daughter by a friend whose wife had been awarded a state job.
Presented this year with an extraordinary opportunity — his Democratic Party controlling both houses of the Illinois General Assembly — Blagojevich has squandered what should have been a leadership moment: He is governor of a state in desperate need of more accountability in its public schools, of a new tax formula for funding those schools, of a meaningful attack on its swelling pension indebtedness. Today Illinois has … solutions to none of the above.
Instead, taxpayers are bankrolling an endless game of chicken between legislative leaders and a governor known to boast about his self-diagnosed “testicular virility.” Blagojevich has clumsily tried to recast himself as a prairie populist, bashing his state’s employers. He has borrowed from the future to cover costs of state government today. And in a fiasco that may have its own constitutional implications, he has redirected millions of taxpayers’ dollars to personal priorities that he can’t convince lawmakers to support.
Blagojevich is an intentionally divisive governor and a profoundly unhelpful influence. He is unwilling or unable to see the chaos all around him. This year, lawmakers failed to make progress on schools, on state pension reform, on any number of critical matters. Mass transit in the Chicago region is about to implode, largely because of the state government’s failure.
Yet Blagojevich said 10 days ago that “If you measure success on whether or not you are doing things for people, this is the most successful session in years.”
Do you see that success? Do you see Blagojevich forging compromises and solving problems? Or do you see the same distracted governor who, after House members crushed his 2007 tax scheme by a vote of 107-0, said: “Today, I think, was basically an up. … I feel good about it.”
He is the governor who cannot govern.
Read the whole thing, and ask yourself: shouldn’t the GOP be doing more to capitalize on the incompetence and corruption of its adversaries?