It is funny how a memory from childhood can connect so directly with something at the present time. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes was brought to mind by the trials and tribulations of Governor John Kitzhaber and our disappointments therein. Read that story again; you’ll be reminded of the emperor, naked but refusing to acknowledge it, as he marched in a parade.
Kitzhaber’s seen as nakedly incompetent, good only at tooting his own brash horn and blaming others for what’s gone haywire. His pals and position-holders want to keep their jobs so they won’t openly admit that he cannot dress himself to tend to gubernatorial responsibilities. Meanwhile, pundits say the voters, too often inclined not to look long and hard to see what’s up with name-familiar candidates, will turn a blind eye to Kitzhaber’s unclad managerial inabilities…and re-elect him.
But just look at Kitzhaber’s litany of inattentive limping along. Education reform got his expensive hand-picked first state chief education officer, Rudy Crew, a better job in New York City while a “retired” Oregon school superintendent took Rudy’s place at one-half a million dollars in pay per biennium with nothing to show for it. Cover Oregon’s a bust that keeps bursting with one of the latest scandals a huge bonus to every Cover Oregon employee who’ll promise to stay aboard the sinking ship. Then there’s that Columbia River Crossing (CRC) boondoggle that’s spent millions never to drive a pile in the river or hang a bridge girder, just a lot of crony payouts.
Where does Kitzhaber spend his time? Not in Salem much, we’re told. He may be found in Portland’s World Trade Center and his home in Cedar Hills. He’s been seen at the Capitol but only sticks around for partial days when he’s there at all or 74 days in a year’s time.
He’s involved as a fellow with a health policy think tank in D.C., traveling there as elsewhere away from the state when he’s not taking vacation time. Many Oregonians would prefer that Kitzhaber behave responsibly or more like his on-the-job counterparts in Sacramento and Olympia. Where’s Waldo? Who cares? In Oregon adults seeking responsible government just want to know the whereabouts of John K.
What are Kitzhaber’s accomplishments? He managed to gouge the state’s PERS’ retirees to pay for his failures, a matter now in the hands of the Oregon Supreme Court. He’s made some noise about oil trains that ply the Columbia Gorge and elsewhere in the state by the hundreds while the question is, will he stay with it to get something done? He found happiness, we’re told, in Bhutan. The most standoffish office holder I’ve ever met now invites the illegal immigrants from Central America to Oregon. Do you suppose he just loves children or seeks the Latino vote? If they arrive here as he wishes, will he adopt them or further tax PERS’ retirees to house, feed, and clothe them?
What are the prospects for four more years with our own “emperor” again in charge. I’d have to turn myself in as a hopeless masochist, defined as in a taste for suffering, to vote for JK again. Hurt me once, shame on you; hurt me three times, promising another painful punch to my solar plexus, shame on me! It’s merciless in the extreme that the only other choice is a guy from Central Point who, in debating Kitzhaber so far, disclosed only his ability to criticize him, which has been proven here that any fool can do.
The GOP’s nominee for Oregon governor, Dennis Richardson, is a conservative’s conservative. It’s believed that a Richardson hero is Sam Brownback, a former U.S. Senator who got himself elected governor of Kansas. Under Brownback’s beliefs and policies in practice there, that state is in near total financial collapse while millions of Kansans are lividly disillusioned over his “accomplishments.” If the Oregon voter wants the same here, he’ll cast his ballot for this guy.
Opinion reads that there should be a viable choice for governor of Oregon. It’s argued we do not have one this year; to the contrary, it is a year where, while the incumbent is more defeatable than he was against Chris Dudley, the Republicans choose to place on the November, 2014 ballot, a person way out of step with a majority of voting Oregonians.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer. His column appears regularly in the Keizertimes.)