Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dave Heineman's 50 Days of Cowardice & Calculation

by Kyle Michaelis
If I were really a good blogger (whatever that entails), I probably would be running a daily counter announcing how many days it has been since Gov. Dave Heineman first said he needed more time to look at the language of the state spending lid amendment before taking a stance on it.

It has now been more than 50 days since Heineman first played that card, and he's been playing it ever since - first, as signatures were gathered; then, when challenged for his lack of leadership by Democratic gubernatorial challenger David Hahn; then, when the required number of signatures were submitted to make the November ballot earlier this month.

In that time, Heineman avoided taking a stand on another controversial issue - immigration - by announcing he tries to keep his focus "on state issues." Here's as big an issue as this state will face this or any year, and he's had all the time in the world to focus on it. So, let's hear an actual opinion already.

Of course, one assumes Heineman will eventually be forced to take a stand. If he ends up supporting the Amendment, it will be a blanket admission that he can't be trusted, as Governor, to know what's best and to do what's right with the people of Nebraska's tax dollars. As such, he would also be drawing a clear line in the sand with Hahn, who's been clear from the start that he opposes the Amendment, perhaps giving Hahn an issue for which a lot of voters might finally find a reason to take a stake in his campaign.

If Heineman ends up coming out against the Amendment, however, he will be stepping on some toes with the activist, anti-government base of the Republican Party, who are hoping - with the aid of hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from mysterious out-of-state interests - to force a drastic solution to their token problem (out-of-control government spending).

Who cares that the "solution" they propose has the potential of being a far greater disaster for the state? Not Heineman, it appears, from whose perspective the longer he can go without offending so rabid and outspoken a population the better.

So, really, it's perfectly understandable why Heineman, as a politician, has been dodging questions on the spending lid amendment. But, as the leader of our state, his silence has gone from irresponsible to laughable to downright treasonous. So radical a change to the functioning of state government is not something on which a sitting Governor can afford the luxury not to have an opinion.

The people of Nebraska deserve to know where Heineman stands. He owes us an answer, and he owed it almost two months ago. His cowardice and political calculation do not trump our right to honesty and accountability from our public officials.


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