Read enough previews for the State of the State stories in today’s newspapers and one common thread emerges in all of them: John Kasich doesn’t think the media has given adequate attention to just how awesome and “historic” his first 50 some days in office have been.
"I think we’ve had a historic 50 days," Kasich said. "It’s really been pretty remarkable."—Columbus Dispatch
From the Plain Dealer:
"The governor said he wonders why he hasn’t received more favorable coverage across the state for his accomplishments. But then again, he knows why. He vows to do a better job keeping in check his off-the-cuff remarks which have landed him in trouble.
And so on. Governor, it’s called a “State of the State” address, not “State of the Governor.”
In fact, the stories all indicate that Kasich doesn’t reportedly even have a draft of the speech ready as of Friday (which I find as incredibly hard to believe as the notion the Administration is trying to put out there that Kasich is writing the whole thing himself.)
What Kasich has all but assured the media that WON’T be in his State of the State address is much in the way of specifics in his State budget due the following week. Those details will be revealed at the last possible minute in an event at the Riffe Tower scheduled for next week, we’re told. While the media coverage of that afterwards will be as intense, the backdrop of such a presentation is more subdued than a State of the State address. In short, Kasich is intentionally avoiding using the State of the State to defend the specifics budget he has yet to introduce.
There’s something to be said for a politician standing in the well of the people’s legislative branch, looking the gallery and those legislators in the eye and telling them, this is my agenda and this is why I believe it must be done. Kasich, apparently, isn’t planned to that. Instead, he wants to recap what he’s done and then give a “big picture” thematic speech of what the problems are in how and how what he’s doing fits in there. It’s a whole lot easier to give a speech about the need for everyone to work together, get things done, and do something that creates jobs and opportunities in Ohio than it is to explain how a 20% cut in higher education fits into that agenda.
It’s cowardly. Kasich expects these legislators, many of them freshman, most of whom are used to their work being virtually anonymous and now thrust them in the spotlight to pass his budget. And yet, Kasich isn’t willing to stand there in the well of the people’s House and talk about the programs he’s eliminating or massively cutting and why. Everyone, including Kasich’s own folks, are predicting that the State budget is going to create an even bigger dustup than SB 5, if that’s possible.
Tomorrow, it’s going to be the same vapid “we’re all in this together; I’m concerned about poverty” nonsense he gave us at the inauguration. Kasich made no effort to work with public unions on collective bargaining reform. He had Shannon Jones roll it out and only allowed it to be scaled back when the Senate lacked the votes to pass it as originally written (more on that later today.) If John Kasich is interested in working together with everyone to solve Ohio’s problems, he’s done an embarrassingly poor job demonstrating that in the past fifty days.
During the campaign, this site was a regular critic of Governor Kasich’s stubborn unwillingness to just level with people about what exactly he was planning to do, to explain his agenda. If Kasich’s speech tomorrow is nothing more than historical revisionism of the past fifty some days and vapid, inspirational speaker-type platitudes, he continues to fail to level with us. It’s been two months since he took office, will he finally tell us what his full agenda is since he refused to do so during the campaign?
If this is the best Governor Kasich is willing to do to defend SB 5 and his budget, why should he expect the members of the General Assembly to be any more visible and unified in defending it, either?
If that’s the path Kasich chooses to go, then he really is overpaying his communication staff. Kasich better learn quickly that you can’t just wrap the word “jobs” around everything you do and expect it to sail through. Or come January 2013, he may find a lot fewer friendly faces looking at him from the gallery for his third State of the State address.