Green: Govs. meet, but don’t meet halfway

By Molly Green

Various U.S. governors have smacked around a lot of talk about the recently passed $787 billion… Various U.S. governors have smacked around a lot of talk about the recently passed $787 billion stimulus plan. And despite an attempt for Republican solidarity, the party has begun to fracture over whether to accept or reject money offered by the plan. Specifically, the governors have disputed the unemployment assistance stipulated by the bill, which, according to The New York Times, provides federal support to expand unemployment insurance but requires each state to increase the number of people given unemployment benefits. In defiance to this condition, some Republican governors have threatened to reject the unemployment assistance accorded to their state ‘mdash; yay, states’ rights! Leading the charge are South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Sanford, a contender for the 2012 presidency and avid fan of cliches, told The New York Times, ‘There’s a tug-of-war right now within the party as to where we go next … I am in the camp that says we go back to basics. There are other folks who say something a little different. The answer will be determined in this tug-of-war.’ I can only hope that last sentence was said in a similar in a similar tone as ‘The Highlander’ line, ‘There can be only one!’ Jindal, another 2012 presidential contender ‘mdash; what a coincidence ‘mdash; agreed that, ‘I think we just have a fundamental disagreement here. ‘I don’t think the best way to [help Louisiana] is for the government to tax and borrow more money,’ he said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ The more plausible explanation for the rejection of funds, of course, is simply that southern governors feel they most appeal to a traditionally fiscally conservative base. Because come election time, their overplayed commercials will say something like, ‘Bobby Jindal: A man of principle. A man who could not be led astray by the left-wing temptress. A man of the people. When 42 other governors followed President Barack Obama blindly, Bobby Jindal said, ‘No,” followed by a pensive picture of Jindal on a New Orleans harbor. As if to amplify this division, stick-to-their-values, back-to-basics conservatives, even insignificant ones, have been talking about these very differences every chance they get. Son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, George P. Bush ‘mdash; who I will refer to simply as ‘P’ ‘mdash; calls these others ‘D light,’ which frankly sounds more like a beer brand or a prostitute to me, but ‘A’ for effort. I can only imagine what the southern conservatives said about Florida Gov. Charlie Crist after this little comment: ‘There is a national leader, his name is President Obama.’ Teacher’s pet, probably.’ Along with Crist, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the few Republican governors who openly endorsed Obama’s stimulus plan, because he just wants to do what’s best for Kauli-for-nya. Schwarzenegger told ABC’s ‘This Week,’ ‘I am more than happy to take his money or [that of] any other governor in this country that doesn’t want to take this money. I take it because I think California needs it.’ Ha. That’s the understatement of the year, considering the state of California’s economy. I would like to say that D lights, like Crist and Schwarzenegger, really are acting out of the selflessness of their hearts, but the fact is their decision is as politically motivated as Sanford’s or Jindal’s. They are just hedging their bets that the stimulus plan succeeds. It’s what I love so much about politicians. They always try to improve their own standing by stepping on the neatly polished shoes of their peers. So what happens when you get 50 feuding governors together? Obama, lucky chap that he is, got to experience just that at the White House Sunday and Monday for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. Sunday’s dinner, I can only imagine, was much like a high school cafeteria, except filled with old, rich guys and a few old, rich women dressed in power suits and Tina Fey glasses (I love drawing Sarah Palin references out of the depths of irrelevancy), while Obama patrolled the table like beaten-down and ignored principal muttering things like, ‘bipartisanship’ and, ‘Listen, it’s only 3 percent of the plan.’ The southern conservatives on one end of the table, Democrats at the other and an awkward cluster of D lights (I just can’t get enough of that term) in the middle ‘mdash; the Republicans don’t want them, the Democrats don’t want them, nobody wants them. Crist walks over to his old chum Sanford, his eye on an empty seat. A beat, then … ‘Sorry, Charlie ‘mdash; you can’t sit with us!” In the end, I suspect all the governors will accept the stimulus money ‘mdash; let’s face it, the states need it. I think it’s just a matter of who holds out the longest, defames the others the most and, ultimately, smack talks his way into a potential presidential election. Are you a D light? E-mail Molly for other horrible puns at [email protected].