Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week 33: Nixon's Grade


A year ago, candidate Jay Nixon was sailing towards the Governorship on the main premise that Medicaid cuts were bad policy. Last week, the Governor's office gently reminded this reporter that "not all cuts are bad." The Nixon administration's tussle with the state tourism division last week over the size and scope of the agency's budget cut shows why governing is always tougher than campaigning. Tourism officials feel their industry is being disproportionately targeted by the budget ax because of Nixon's rivalry with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. But Nixon received an assist from an unlikely source when The Missouri Record not only defended Nixon's decision but said he should have gone further. Could it be possible that Nixon is more secure politically in rural Seymour than urban St. Louis? The St. Louis Business Journal & The St. Louis American both complained that Nixon isn't devoting enough attention to their city. But Nixon's probably in pretty solid shape if that's his biggest political problem. Which it likely is not. Republicans are convinced there's more "there there" regarding E-Coligate and Nixon's inner circle. But if there is, an intrepid reporter is likely to find it before a State Senate committee that's still arguing over its purpose. A GOP Capitol observer whispered to me the difference between the Nixon and Matt Blunt's administration thus far: "The people around Blunt were motivated by money. The people around Nixon are motivated by fierce loyalty. They'll all fall on their swords before anything touches Jay." No politician wants to be anywhere near a scandal. And when Sen. Jeff Smith and Rep. Steve Brown went down, the Governor showed no crocodile tears. While even Republicans like Kinder praised Smith for his legislative work, Nixon showed no sympathy, offering a simple yet terse three line statement, describing the actions of Smith and Brown "a violation of the public's trust." In many ways politics is a team sport, but in the end, you're on your own. In his many years (and several tough losses) in Missouri politics, Nixon has proven himself to be ruthless survivor.

No comments: