“If you’re not on the bus, we’ll run over you with the bus. And I’m not kidding.”—Governor-elect John Kasich, November 2010.
“You got a problem, come and see me. Come and see the director. Be big enough to come in and confront me.”—Gov. Kasich to Ohio EPA employees, yesterday.
Yes, Kasich could have done a teleconference. He could have filmed something from his YouTube channel. He could have sent a memo or an e-mail. He could have just let his Ohio EPA director handle it. He made the Ohio EPA get on the bus. And he did it for a symbolic reason. He did it because he wanted to maximize the psychological intimidation factor.
In King John’s worldview of leadership, when the King places his subordinates into the stocks in the public square for ridicule and derision, it’s not because he’s not loyal to his team. It’s his paternalistic way of getting his team to toe his party line. When any subordinate of King John, however, reveals that the emperor has no clothes, that the King is lying, or dares to defend themselves against the King’s undeserved criticism, well that person is not a “team player.”
The Columbus Dispatch spent six months last year dominating their front pages over “Troopergate,” which turned out to be nothing what the Dispatch or the conservative critics of the Administration suggested it was. Instead of a political conspiracy and cover up that went all the way to Governor’s office to hide drug smuggling at the Governor’s Mansion, we find out that the Governor’s office kept their hands off as some uniformed officers of the Highway Patrol bickered with their civilian leadership as to whether they had sufficient evidence to suspect any crime would be occurring at all in which to do a SWAT-style sting and raid at the Governor’s Mansion while the Governor and First Lady, unaware of the situation, entertained Senator John Glenn, his wife, the Governor’s chief-of-staff and his young daughter… over tobacco smuggling, which isn’t even a crime in Ohio.
We were told, however, that the issue was whether political pressure hindered a government agency from doing its job properly. We were continued to be told this even after Inspector General Thomas Charles’ office reported that all evidence indicated that the Governor’s office stayed out of the issue from Day One.
So, to all those critics out there who said we were on the wrong side of Troopergate, to Jon Keeling, Matt Naugle, Randy Ludlow, Kyle Sisk, Senator Grendell, and others, where is your outrage now? Here we have a Governor, in the presence of the media, telling state officials that if they don’t keep quiet, if they don’t keep things “in the family,” that they are not team players, thus implying they will be terminated. If that’s not what the Governor meant, then do tell me what he did mean?
Everything they claimed was bad about Troopergate is pretty much present here, except this time there’s no doubt the Governor’s office is involved in politically intimidating government officials from doing their jobs in a way that politically harms or embarrasses the Governor.
Tomorrow, will we see so much as a single editorial criticizing the Governor for doing more to try to silence leaks that prove to be politically embarrassing rather than apologize to his team whom he unfairly scapegoated?
Kasich’s “leadership” style has all the markings of a 16th century European monarchy. The “crown” cannot err, and anyone in the government who causes the King to be subject to ridicule, criticism, or doubt should be treated as an enemy of the State. That is the attitude and tone Kasich displayed as he marched into the room flanked with his inflated armed protection detail and his most loyal lieutenants.
A true leader would have bussed those employees in and started with an apology for so falsely misrepresenting the facts and insulting the performance of the rest of “the team.” If not from Kasich, then at least from Nally. Instead, John Kasich told them to next time either quietly stand with him or… well, off with your heads.