Monday, March 27, 2006

Political Mileage Awards

It’s a day for political opportunity. In separate events, Governor Vilsack and Candidate Blouin went off with cloying talk on issues that need apolitical compassion.

Vilsack, when asked to comment on the death of his former chief of staff, used his trademark style of weaving this unrelated tragedy into a political message directed at giving the cigarette tax a media boost. Vilsack tied his friend’s suicide brought on by the abuse of prescription drugs to increasing the tobacco tax. The string of logic on this one: tobacco products are a “gateway” drug. Vilsack quotes from Radio Iowa.

"Steve Gleason was a good man, but he had his challenges and his addictions which he had difficulties coping with," Vilsack said. "The legislature has before it a tobacco tax increase which many look at in the context of the politics of the day and some look at in terms of revenues that can do good. For me, it's about trying to save lives."

Vilsack said research shows raising the tax will make cigarettes so expensive many kids won't start smoking, and smoking, he contends, is a precursor to other drugs and addictions. "If that's true, and I believe it is, lives could be saved with this action (of raising the cigarette tax)," Vilsack said. "It seems to me that that's the most compelling reason why we ought to be talking about this, especially in light of all that's happened recently."

I don’t think Vilsack’s habit of using other people’s personal tragedies to sell a political message is calculated, perhaps it’s a residual method of constructing an argument from his training and work as a trial lawyer. Whatever it is that allows our governor to commingle personal tragedy with political spin, it’s at times unseemly.

Mike Blouin’s campaign came up with the groovy idea of encouraging charity on the single day that President Bush is in town for a Nussle fundraiser. So how about the other 364 days? Reported in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

…Blouin said his campaign and its supporters will be serving soup in Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines to those who can't afford tickets to the April 11 Bush/Nussle fundraiser. He said proceeds from the dinners will be donated to soup kitchens and food pantries.

Blouin said attendees at his soup dinner will be asked to pay $5 or $10 a head, or whatever they can afford…

I have to believe Blouin’s efforts are less about Jim Nussle and more about connecting with Ed Fallon’s supporters. Particularly with the impression Blouin’s given some of the social service agency advocates.

From a no longer published December post (this is my post on the PSF post), the former Pirate Skull Face dished a little inside on Blouin’s curious meeting with a group of human needs advocates. As I recall, the post was less than flattering to Mr. Blouin, something about patience and comfort level. If only we could track down a transcript from that meeting.

We should probably cut our politicians a little slack -- from pandering to the poor, using tragedy for political mileage, going on an absurd 'tour' over a weekend during session, caring more about bullhead cousins than bullies -- they all make mistakes, much like the rest of us…although, outside of taking stupid pills on a regular basis and being 34% evil (probably more on a bad day), I’m perfect.

It’s my blog, personal myopia rules.

The Vilsack comments were completely inappropriate. Incredibly bad judgement, made me cringe when I heard it on the radio. Reminds me of the Wellstone service.
Yes, nothing like tragedy to bring out Democrats’ abiding sense of righteousness in their political goals.
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