The national media take on Susana

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By Merilee Dannemann

For the second time, a national magazine has published a tell-all article about Gov. Susana Martinez. Both articles have aimed at getting behind the gauzy image projected by her tightly controlled, nonstop campaign machine to expose the workings of the machine itself.
The previous article, published last November in National Journal, dealt in depth with the relationship between Martinez and her excessively influential political adviser Jay McCleskey.
The current article, in the left-of-center magazine Mother Jones, is titled, “Is New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez the Next Sarah Palin?”
It’s based in large part on unusual source material, which the author describes as “previously unreleased audio recordings, text messages and emails obtained by Mother Jones that “reveal a side of Martinez the public has rarely, if ever, seen. In private, Martinez can be nasty, juvenile and vindictive. She appears ignorant about basic policy issues and has surrounded herself with a clique of advisers who are prone to a foxhole mentality.”
Author Andy Kroll doesn’t say how he obtained this material. The governor’s people apparently recognized it. Her campaign website commented: “Today, an extreme left-wing blog posted four-year-old material from private conversations undoubtedly sent to them by individuals, or their allies who are either under federal indictment, or have had their homes raided by the FBI for their role in stealing or distributing Governor Susana Martinez’s email.”
You can listen for yourself to a few of the governor’s statements. The website links to sound recordings with her voice clearly recognizable.
There are two very different sets of potential consequences from this article: What it means in New Mexico, where the governor is running for a second term and what it means at the national level.
Naturally, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates have jumped all over the article and its implications. They vivisected every word. I don’t have to add anything.
The article says very little about Martinez’s performance as governor. It tells us something about her attitude, shows that at the time she was weak on knowledge about the state, and demonstrates that she and staff members said offensive and stupid things in private conversations.
Offensive, yes, but less critical than whether she’s running New Mexico competently.
The article didn’t mention most of the critical issues facing New Mexicans, such as the ridiculous battle over the education system, the continuing lackluster economy or the unjustified attack and near destruction of our behavioral health system for no apparent good reason.
It didn’t address why the champion of the Baby Briana case has not been more aggressive in preventing tragic cases of child abuse. These and other substantive issues of governance are more important for New Mexico voters to think about.
Regarding the national level: First, let’s assume that no matter how much she protests, Martinez and her entourage have their eyes on a national prize. Nobody believes otherwise.
Second, the national public knows little about her except one good speech at the 2012 Republican convention. Many Republicans, remembering a young senator named Barack Obama, would say that a great convention speech is not a qualification to be president.
The national news media have been mentioning her in connection with the presidency or vice-presidency for months. I had been wondering when they would start paying attention to how effectively she governs New Mexico, rather than simply continuing to note her demographics as a female Hispanic Republican who likes guns.
This may be the beginning of that scrutiny, and millions of Americans will now learn about the nasty remarks. On the national stage, she can’t McCleskey her way out of this. If she wants to play in the big time, she’ll have to learn to roll with the punches like everybody else.

Contact Merilee Dannemann through triplespacedagain.com.