Friday, June 04, 2010

All You Need to Know About the Republican Gubernatorial Platform

There was a gubernatorial debate on the pretty island last night, the last time that all the candidates will be together on one stage. Reading through all the coverage and seeing the photos, it seemed to be an audition for the new FOX TV show "When Middle-Aged White Guys in Suits Attack!" Here is the basic premise:

Did so! Did not! Ask my wife! You outsourced! Yeah? You have scandals! We're gonna get tough with the Canadians! The unions are the problem! More tax cuts! Peter Luke summed the Republican platform up best:

Republicans on the stage tied their strategy for economic growth directly to a chronically-imbalanced state budget that required public employee concessions and business tax cuts.

It's simple if you ignore the fact that the math will never add up to a balanced budget, but it sure sounds good for the base. Create an enemy in the working folks, and drive that wedge home. Same 'ol strategy, same 'ol divisive attitude, same 'ol non-solutions. Yawn. You don't know whether to be afraid, depressed, or hopelessly bored.

The Freep gave the debate nod to Hoekstra and Dillon, with a side of Bouchard thrown in for good measure, but they were pretty disappointed in the whole affair overall.

Thursday's gubernatorial debate at the Mackinac Policy Conference was by far the most pugilistic to date, which made for good entertainment but not nearly enough substance.

One-liners, accusations and innuendo won't solve Michigan's problems. Moderator Tim Skubick, political commentator for WJBK-TV in Detroit, could have done a better job keeping things focused, and could have spent less time asking incendiary hypotheticals. (What's your position on no-tax pledges? If the mayor of Detroit said he needed $500 million from you, what would your answer be?)


Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, and U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, shone as the most on-message, strategic and thoughtful of the hopefuls during the debate. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard also made a strong showing, though his positions on some key issues were reactionary.

Each of the three stuck to the issues and avoided the nastiness. Each evinced an understanding of the change the state needs.

Dillon and Hoekstra are simply the best politicians of the bunch, offering "nuanced" answers that won't get them in any trouble. Mike Cox picked the fights, showing himself to be the problem child that we all know he is. Snyder got dragged down with him by retaliating. Bernero stood by the working folks. And who knows why Tom George is still there, but give him credit for sticking with his campaign - takes courage when you know you don't have a chance.

Besides the links above, if you want to see/hear more about this debate, check out these reports from the usual suspects:

Watch the whole thing at the DRC's Mackinac Policy Conference website here.
The AP's Kathy Barks Hoffman gives the nation the lowdown at Forbes.
The DNews has Mark Hornbeck's take here.
Mlive's Jonathan Oosting offers up some nice details on the event.
The Freep's Chris Christoff and Kathleen Gray cover reaction from some of the attendees.
Crain's has a full page of coverage here.

Seven guys on one stage is too many. Doesn't offer enough time for answers, but it's very telling that this dissolved into a "food fight". When we narrow down to the actual candidates after the primary, it will be easier to chew them up study the details - right now it seems to be a matter of some candidates playing to the base to make up ground, and the so-called leaders in the polls trying to play it safe so they don't blow it.