What’s Ahead For Island Politicians

What's Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie gonna do?

In my exalted position as a political columnist, political analyst and certifiable media maven, I am occasionally asked to speak to groups small and large (but mostly small to smaller after the membership has heard that I will be the speaker).

I usually give my rapt audiences 20 minutes of warmed over “Mostly Politics” columns. I finish with, “Do you have any questions?” Usually someone will wake from his slumber, rub his eyes and mumble a query.

Before elections, the most common question was: “Who’s going to win?”

To which I would nod my head knowingly, stroke my chin thoughtfully and reply prior to the primary election: “Mufi, I think, but Neil’s got the momentum.” And prior to the general election: “Neil, I think, but Duke’s definitely got the momentum.” (Are you beginning to understand, dear reader, why a recent correspondent suggested that I change the title of my column to “Mostly Stupid.”)

In the post-election meetings, the most common question has been: “What now?” To which I nod my head knowingly, stroke my chin thoughtfully and reply: “Damned if I know.”

And I mean it. Neil Abercrombie based his campaign for governor on one strategic principle: Say nothing specific about anything. When pressed, nod your head, stroke your beard and reply: “I stand foursquare behind change.”

If pressed further, drop the “foursquare” stuff and just say “Change!” again. And again, if need be.

It proved a brilliant strategy – as it was for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, for Linda Lingle in 2002 and for Barack Obama in 2008. Say nothing save “Change!” Which, when translated, means, “I ain’t the other guy (or the guy or gal bequeathed to us by the previous miserable administration).”

So what is Abercrombie going to do? Pray, perhaps, for the arrival of more and freer-spending tourists? Or propose tax hikes and new fees? With all those new congressional Republicans intent on deficit-cutting, the former 1st District congressman isn’t going to find new federal money to pay the bills.

Another frequent “Q” during the post-election Q&A periods is: “What’s going to happen to Linda Lingle?” To which I reply authoritatively (no chin-stroking on this one): “In 2012, she’s going to run for the United States Senate seat, currently held by Danny Akaka. She said as much on election night. Told the whole state.”

Then I hesitate, fearful that I may be leading my audience astray: “That’s if she can leave her position as chairwoman of the national Republican Party, to which she’ll be appointed as soon as they give Michael Steele the boot.” (There isn’t a water cooler in Honolulu that hasn’t heard that rumor.)

Then there’s the question about Hannemann’s future, to which I gave the same answer as above, dropping the Republican chair job. And Ed Case’s future, same answer as above. The yawns widen.

Time to ask “Any more questions?” I hope there aren’t, and head for the door. But there is one more: “What did you think of all that trash-talking this year?”

I was, like everyone else I’ve talked to, sickened by it. The so-called independent committees drowned us in half-truths, out-of-context quotations and out-of-focus pictures of Djou, Hanabusa, Abercrombie and Aiona. As a result of the Supreme Court’s idiotic 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, mountains of untraceable cash financed the ugliest, most vulgar and repetitious campaign in Hawaii’s history.

Voters learned nothing of value from its excesses, and it sullied every candidate who “approved” or failed to condemn those ads.

It even left a political analyst feeling as if he needed a shower.

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