I was pretty entertained by the antics at the recent Republican Governors Conference, in which every single governor with even remote aspirations to higher office found some way to tell the cameras that Sarah Palin did not — no, not at all, how could you think that? – have any kind of lead heading into 2012. Nor should she be considered the face of the GOP. This notwithstanding the fact that the gentlemen in question — Governors Pawlenty, Sanford, Jindal, and Crist all poll nationally in the low one digits. You could see the bubble over their heads: “no, me, me, over here! I am the smart one. I have the ideas. Look at me! Ignore that woman in front of you…”
Of course these are smart guys, and they do have lots of policy ideas to share, and since they are the GOP’s future it is nice to see that some of them understand what it means to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Govs Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and Rick Perry of Texas do just that today, in the WSJ, with this piece against the bailouts for states. They are spot on, I say, as an overtaxed New Yorker. My state has never shown any restraint in offering to meet people’s cradle to grave needs — and is broke because of it. A little fiscal discipline wouldn’t be so bad. It might force our accidental governor to look at tax and spend policies that don’t depend on a good year on Wall Street, and might even bring business back to the perpetually depressed upstate areas.
Perry and Sanford point out, too, that every dime used to bail out any entity right now is borrowed — so this isn’t exactly a free option. The new administration is unlikely to listen, but the governors will have plenty of time to demonstrate fiscal responsibility at home, and be able to show the country what happens when you cut spending in your state. Though I hate to say it about two such handsome politicians — when you’re competing against Palin, better to compete with policy prescriptions than photo ops. She owns the camera. For her part, the Governor of Alaska, (who we love), may wish to think about her next op-ed on fiscal policy up north.