In the midst of the the 2007 Virginia General Assembly session I blogged about our Governor, Tim Kaine, and his transportation failures. I suggested that while he tried to portray himself as a fearless samurai, he was really something else:
But the GOP [offered a plan], and the Democrats did not. Now Governor Kaine [unhappy with the plan] is running around like an old time school marm who gives an assignment, gives the students freedom to complete the assignment as they see fit, and then pitches a hissy fit when things are not done as she envisioned it being done…At a time when we need leadership, we instead get an old school marm…bitter that she is not more appreciated, tolerated only because of the office held, and never to be remembered fondly or respectfully.
Here we are now sixteen months later, and nothing has changed…except Kaine has dug himself an even deeper hole.
The legislature is in special session to discuss transportation funding. By all accounts, there are multiple parties involved-there is the House of Delegates, a couple of different factions in the state Senate, and then there is TheGov, who apparently is having trouble getting his own plans introduced.
While the GOP want a variation of the 2007 plan, and Dick “I Do It My Way” Saslaw has his own plan to introduce focusing on increases in the gas tax, titling fees, etc., Governor Kaine just wants a billion dollar tax increase. While it is a bit much to say he has been abandoned by his allies, clearly there is a stench about TheGov caused by his interference in the Va-11 primary, his willingness to intervene in capital murder cases, and his regressive tax schemes.
Unfortunately, while the public wants improvements the two parties, and our leadership deficient governor, do not get the picture.
Many times I have written that no plan will go through until the state shows that everything has been done to wring all possible value from the funds currently being spent on transportation. Nothing special, some Ross Perot charts should do the trick. Instead, the new plans-and especially the governor’s plan-draws comments like this:
I don’t suppport any tax increases until I see that they are using what they have efficiently. I see 4 state trucks and 10 workers at a work site and one person (if that) working. I see good roads repaved and bad roads ignored. They take two weeks to do a two day job. A major overhaul of VDOT needs to be done before they get another dime.
No one is going to jump up for new taxes until they are convinced the most bang is beign gotten for the current buck.
But it may be that Governor Kaine doesn’t want a solution. Some have suggested that he is more interested in scoring political points and putting the GOP behind the electoral eight ball than in making progress.
That may be…but if he is really thinking that, he forgets two things:
1. Come the next state election, folks are going to remember that the Democrats held the governor’s mansion and one house of the legislature and couldn’t agree on a plan…as opposed to their previous strategy of not offering a plan and watching the GOP implode. This proposition is not likely to be as politically strong for Kaine; and
2. His not-so-vague longings for a place in the Obama administration are hurt with every misstep he takes. Obama has to be aware that Kaine became governor less on his own merits than on the strengths and failures of others. Couple that with a feckless and ineffectual term as governor, no matter how personally likeable you might be, and suddenly Kaine needs a win to stay in the spotlight; and
3. There is that little matter of a GOP Lt. Governor who will become governor of Virginia if Kaine gets an admin sinecure. Is TheGov’s presence such an overwhelming presence that Obama would turn over the Virginia governor’s mansion to the other party just to bring “Timmy!” on board?
All in all, I doubt it…
Bottom line, things have not changed since February 2007. Kaine is still the old school marm I described in Februrary 2007, only now he has ambition. Unfortunately, that ambition ain’t getting him anywhere.
The ironic part of this is that the advice he needs has been sitting there, waiting to be absorbed, and it is in an essay about his father-in-law.
The Governor’s of Virginia 1860-1978 is a book published in 1982 and offers short bios on the Virginia governors elected or selected from 1860-1973, concluding with Mills Godwin’s second term. Included is an essay by J. Harvie Wilkinson on Governor Lynwood Holton. Wilkinson summarizes Holton’s career-an administrative triumph and a political disaster-by saying that in to move on in politics it is not enough simply to govern well, one must also mind the store politically.
Holton did not do this, and his aspirations to be tapped as VP in 1972 and then to get the GOP Senate nod in 1978 all came to naught. It was another variation on what my father has said about politics being about how well you do two things…”Gettin’ it and doin’ it”.
Apparently TheGov has not learned from the example of his father-in-law…and if he continues on this path he will find his place in history along with those cold, gray men who achieved high office through the efforts of others, and was unable to make things happen for themselves in either the statute books or at the ballot box.