Notes and Asides

Posted by By at 17 May, at 18 : 34 PM Print

Notes and Asides: May 16, 2011

Primary day! I love the unofficial holidays like election day – a holiday for those of us who work these issues year round, that is.  For political operatives we election day is perhaps the one day you can’t get an elected official to meet, have lunch, or consider your issues; rather, they are trying to help compatriots get elected or keep their own gig.  It never ceases to amaze me how hard even unopposed candidates want to appear, as if the hard work seeking the office will demonstrate willingness to do the same once in office – even with all evidence to the contrary in many cases.

Odd year elections are perhaps the sleepiest affairs this side of a Xanax free sample party, with turnout often lower than the prom king and queen balloting.  It’s ironic that people pay so little attention to the election that likely will directly effect their lives more than any other.

So wake up people, check out who is running for school board, and get out there and vote for the best of what may be largely unappealing options.  Do some due diligence on your county commissioners, and find out what the PA Bar association means when they say “highly recommended.” The alternative is to risk fools, incompetents or worse – just go look at Luzerne County.

Huckabee saw our pain… I have literally no strong opinion on Mike Huckabee one way or the other – he was a largely benign southern governor with a weight loss program and a banjo who became a symbol for the right wing of the GOP.  But he also was a man who had almost no chance of winning the Presidency in part because he was so unappealing to the middle.

I think it is more basic than that – Huckabee comes from Hope, Arkansas, a place that already boasts a former son turned POTUS.  It is this fact that doomed his challenge – there is simply no way this country elects two men from some tiny Arkansas hamlet in a century, let alone a generation.

Either way his absence opens the door wide for a so-called “values” candidate – space Mitt, Newt and the reluctant Daniels do not seem capable of filling.  One likely beneficiary in the early going?  None other than PA’s own Rick Santorum.

If I was in better shape…Over the next two weeks yours truly will be watching the tweets and YouTube videos from Harrisburg’s own Brett Kelley as he marches from the Sunken Road in Fredericksburg, VA to Harrisburg, PA.  Kelley is doing so in the outfit of a Confederate soldier, matching the march of General Ewell’s troops.

The march is a way to raise money for one of the hidden gem’s in our area, the Civil War museum, and to commemorate the 150th anniversary of our nation’s bloodiest contest.  It is a cool thing to track as you he braves the weather, the terrain — and the simple act of walking here from Fredericksburg.

PA turning a Presidential red at last? One of the great mysteries in our fair Commonwealth is the lack of Presidential timber cut from Penn’s Woods; in 50 plus Presidential elections, there has only been one Pennsylvania President; the guy who will forever be known as Abe Lincoln’s predecessor – and little else – President Buchanan.

This year may break the streak with native sons, even if they hail from other locales these days.  No less than three claim close ties to the Keystone State – Rick Santorum we know well, but don’t forget that Mitch Daniels was born in Monongahela, PA and Newt Gingrich might pronounce his name a whole lot differently had he remained in his boyhood home of Harrisburg, PA.  Given the way candidates are opting out of the field, it might be PA’s turn once again to raise a Presidential standard.

Trumped! The best news for the GOP this week happened Monday when the Donald took his hat out of the speculative ring and instead planned on subjecting us to his charms in various other outlets.  The Donald’s brief ascendency shows the silly habit politicos have of reading way too much in to early polls – only a callous mind ever truly saw Trump as a serious contender, yet for two weeks he hogged the spotlight with his cheap gimmicks and bad hair.

His brief moment does highlight something very real, however – the earnest desire for a genuine alternative to both Obama and the traditional pool of GOP candidates.  The GOP has a restless flank, one that ultimately will support the eventual nominee but one that is not content with its current options and is willing to flirt with oddities.  This is the void that Michelle Bachman will seek to fill – unsuccessfully, I earnestly hope.

It is way too early to pick the GOP nominee or to know if that nominee is even in the race right now.  That said it is past time for any hopeful to recognize that, in order to win the big job, they have to appeal to the base now, but must be able to pull in independents later.  Otherwise the process is an exercise in futility – something that Trump may have thankfully figured out before the damage was too great.

Tweet of the week. Saw something that simply has to be repeated:  “Bin Laden was into porn, the Taliban is on twitter – why do they hate us?”

Quick hits…Scarnati’s introduction of the impact fee is a double edged sword.  It is a step in the right direction, but it also sets the dangerous political precedent of calling a tax a fee in order to serve political ends – something that will certainly happen again, and probably by the Pro Temps’ political opponents …the Bar Association is reviewing the Pennsylvania constitution (kinda like letting the fox review security measures at the hen house).  The exercise is important but the process is flawed – the Bar association should be witnesses to a citizen committee, not vice versa.  After all, if you want to know why lawyers and lobbyists make out both here and in Washington, all you need to do is think about who set up both governing systems.  If we are to remake our constitution it should be done so to limit the influence of the two groups of professional most responsible for the one we now have – something that is more easily accomplished when they aren’t in charge of the process…Finally, last week marked and important anniversary – my Parent’s wedding.  49 years, 5 kids, 17 grandkids and counting.  Congrats Mom and Dad – and thanks.

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- who has written 77 posts for Rock The Capital
Scott Paterno is an accomplished policy analyst and political consultant based in Hershey, PA. Mr. Paterno, never one to sit still, has practiced law, run for a house seat, and worked as lobbyist in Harrisburg and Washington. Paterno is Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Fund and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science. He is happily married with three children. - Email scottp

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