Snarling in politics

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By Hal Rhodes

Why are so many high profile politicos so ill-tempered these days? Is it in the job description: Politico, be unpleasant? Whatever the case, you encounter this snapping and sniping wherever you turn.
In New Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez routinely bristles at the slightest hint of criticism.
In a recent op-ed piece, Martinez’s predecessor, Bill Richardson, suggested that the nation’s governors, Martinez included, might want to think twice before abandoning tax incentives for movie production in their states.
According to Richardson, New Mexico’s film production incentives garnered the state “more than 10,000 jobs in this industry and in supporting businesses, bringing nearly $4 billion into our economy over eight years.”
Whereupon Martinez seemingly came unglued, railing against the budget deficit she inherited and intimating that movie production incentives were taking money out of classrooms, a claim clearly at odds with efforts in the Legislature to trim the program without crippling it.
Nor is Martinez alone among new governors whose temper flares when questioned about their budget balancing machinations.
The folks up in Wisconsin got themselves one of the most belligerent of the lot when they elected Scott Walker governor.
Walker’s proposed state budget cuts are draconian, but it is his drive to strip state employees’ unions of their bargaining powers that has provoked the massive and marathon protests that threatened to bring the roof down at the state capitol in Madison.
Walker claims his attack on unions’ bargaining right has something to do with balancing his state’s budget, but he got crosswise with that contention when he spoke candidly about doing the unions in during a telephone conversation with a fellow he thought to be a billionaire campaign contributor.
Only it wasn’t a contributor. It was a blogger who posted the would-be union-busting governor’s remarks online, creating a hullabaloo still raging.
When asked about the deception revealed in what he says in public about his union bashing efforts and what he says in private, Walker snapped, “I’m not going to let one telephone call keep me from pushing ahead with this.”
About the same time Wisconsin’s eggy-faced governor was adding insult to injury, a New York Times/CBS News poll was released showing by almost a 2-to-1 margin Americans oppose efforts to weaken bargaining rights of public employee unions.  
A subsequent NBC News poll found fully 77 percent of the respondents support public employee collective bargaining. And the CBS survey registered 56 percent of Americans oppose cuts in public employees’ pay and benefits.
Which is where another new governor got his turn to grouse. In his brief tenure as governor, New Jersey’s Chris Christie has evidenced a certain delight in bashing public employees and their unions, including firefighters, police officers and teachers.   
To hear Christie tell it, these are the “21st Century’s Welfare Queens.”
So what was this freshly minted governor’s reaction to the Times/CBS poll? Well, he harrumphed, polls can be “set up so they say what (their sponsors) want them to say.”
Christie is being billed as a new “Republican superstar.”
It was left to a Capitol Hill veteran, the newbie House Speaker John Boehner, however, to succinctly snarl the snappiest snipe with his reaction to news that scores of economists, including those at the respected nonpartisan Moody’s Analytics, estimate that upwards of 700,000 American jobs will be lost within a year if the federal budget cuts propounded by Boehner and his cohorts are enacted.
Said Boehner:  “So be it.”
As the hapless Marie Antoinette was wont to say, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.”   Let them eat cake.