An Immodest Proposal
If I wrote the headlines, that's what I would have called this column. However, my editor at The Tribune, knowing far better than I how poorly any literary allusion would go over with the usual readership, thought better. I was worried that irony hasn't quite made it off the DL, but felt better when the Governor herself called to say she got a good laugh over the column. That's better.
TIME FOR A NEW HAT IN THE RING -- MAYBE MINE!
East Valley Tribune, June 5, 2005
Why let Fife Symington and J.D. Hayworth have all the fun being “potential candidates”? Having a column means I don’t need to float my name to a reporter, I just talk to myself. So with tongue firmly in cheek, here’s my trial balloon.
Yes, I’m “seriously considering” running against Janet Napolitano for the 2006 Democratic nomination for governor. We need “a choice, not an echo” -- and I’m no echo.
Democrats should recognize Napolitano’s two handicaps. First, she suffers from an Arizona political double standard. Symington wouldn’t let anyone get away with breaking a promise to have a 5-year sunset on a tax credit. In both politics and business, if there was double-crossing involved, Fife went first. He always cut it as close as possible to the line -- that is, if he wasn’t busy crossing it. Symington wouldn’t bother with a mere veto when he could commit fraud. Whatever, the GOP echo chamber called it “leadership”!
But when Napolitano stands her ground, the Republicans squeal like colicky infants. They’re used to hardball from guys, but when a woman does it, the whining reaches fighter-jet decibels. Do Democrats dare have a woman lead our state when it makes GOP legislators act so irrational and emotional?
Why else would people who blithely swallowed the fictions Symington concocted start complaining about Napolitano’s word? They just can’t handle a woman who knows more than they do, and until we elect a guy, they’ll just keep complaining. I’m the right gender for dealing with GOP legislators, and Janet isn’t.
Second, Napolitano is burdened by her lack of partisanship. She had a Republican co-chairing her transition team and has Republicans in her cabinet, including a former candidate for governor who heads the Department of Administration.
Whoever the Republicans get to run against Janet won’t bother with such niceties. Their candidate won’t have any Democrats in the campaign, or in the administration. A GOP governor wouldn’t keep any of Napolitano’s appointees, like she did with several of Gov. Jane Hull’s. Whomever the Republicans nominate won’t have to deal with anybody who doesn’t think exactly the same, and that’s so much easier.
Sure, people claim they don’t like partisanship, but that’s just not how the game is played anymore. It’s certainly not how it works at the Legislature, where Republicans won’t even let committees meet because Democrats sit on them. Yet Napolitano still thinks she can find common ground with people of goodwill, regardless of party registration. Not me. I’m incapable of a suspension of disbelief that huge, absolutely required when dealing with the GOP legislative leadership.
Finally, Democrats should nominate someone less moderate and mainstream than Napolitano. She’s let her experience in law enforcement and in seeking practical solutions keep her from what really matters in today’s politics -- ideology.
For too long, the Arizona GOP has kept moving farther and farther to the right, with even more extreme ideas, like privatizing Social Security, eliminating public schools, and policies that would make even more Americans lack health insurance. While Napolitano keeps focused on making progress on fixing Child Protective Services or providing all-day kindergarten, things which make a difference in some actual lives, she’s missing the real war, where ideologues battle by yelling soundbites past each other.
The Republicans keep pushing each other to greater extremes, and without somebody just as extreme and loud on the left, all a moderate, mainstream leader like Napolitano has is the truth. Anybody seeing how “junk science” is convincing people to doubt evolution, global warming, and stem-cell research merely through really loud misinformation knows that these days, truth just isn’t enough.
Maybe Arizona is better off with a moderate, mainstream governor who can work across party lines. But in an age of ideology, scandal, and irresponsibility, we simply can’t afford someone as reasonable and practical as Janet Napolitano
We need a loud, aggressive ideologue, who won’t let facts or truth hinder either volume or vehemence -- and that shouldn’t always mean a Republican.
So I’m considering becoming a candidate. I’m certainly not serious, but I’m considering. You heard it here first.