Friday, May 4, 2012
Trouble In Democratic Paradise?
With all the advantages of incumbency and without the necessity of going through a bruising primary campaign, the president can’t even hold the Democratic governors together. West Virginia Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has gone on record as refusing to endorse Obama for reelection, but has also given some pretty strong reasons for his refusal.
Gov. Tomblin’s statement minces no words: “President Obama has apparently made it his mission to drive the backbone of West Virginia’s economy, coal and the energy industry out of business. That will not only hurt thousands of West Virginia families, it will destroy the economic fabric of our state.” Tomblin went on to say: “As a loyal member of the Democratic Party and as governor of our state, I will continue to do everything I can, including suing the EPA, to get the president to change the misguided policies that are hurting West Virginians.”
How long this will last and how much effect it will have on other Democratic stalwarts remains to be seen. But Tomblin is not the only important Democratic figure from a state heavily-dependent on the production and use of coal and oil for the health of their state economies. In addition, several Republican governors of coal producing/using states could quickly latch onto the same refrain (Pennsylvania and Ohio come to mind—both battleground states). Never mind the phony “war on women.” This is a real war on coal and oil, and now a Democratic governor has spoken the unspeakable.
Make no mistake. Tomblin is not about to become a maverick who endorses a Republican for president. West Virginia is a very poor state, with a large rural population and a significant portion of its population dependent on government handouts. But he has made a point which could resonate throughout other fossil-fuel states. And he has essentially “given permission” for other Democrats to remain loyal to their party without being loyal to the Great Job Destroyer.
Tomblin made it clear he is not a fan of either Romney or the Republican agenda, then proceeded to repeat Democratic talking points. Said Tomblin: “Mitt Romney is supporting policies that will end Medicare and Social Security as we know it. His policies will put more burdens on West Virginia families who are simply trying to make ends meet.” In other words, “I support Democratic policies which keep many West Virginians on the plantation and on the welfare rolls, but not a president who destroys union jobs and raises energy costs in quantum leaps.”
He concluded with “neither President Obama nor Governor Romney has earned my vote at this point.” That leaves open the question of whether he would reverse his position should Obama throw a few bones to West Virginia in the form of job incentives that are more apparent than real. That would be a real tightrope for both the president and the governor. Federal government handouts can go a long way toward greasing the wheels of currently-Democratic states.
West Virginia has a 2-1 Democratic registration majority, but has elected many Republicans to statewide and federal offices in the very recent past. Both the governor and Senator Joe Manchin (Tomblin’s predecessor in the governor’s mansion) are acutely aware that when it comes to unions and welfare, they are on solid ground. On the overall issue of jobs and the Obama ecoweenie attacks on coal production and coal-fueled energy their jobs are on shaky ground, and they know it. It doesn’t do them any good to support the United Mine Workers Union if the coal mines are forced to cease production and the state economy reaches final collapse.
In addition, Sen. Manchin has not endeared himself to the Obamacrats as he has implored the president to reverse course on “conscience waivers” in Obamacare to accommodate doctors religiously opposed to abortion and forced coverage for birth control and abortifacients. Blue Dog Democrats are a vanishing breed, but they haven’t yet gone entirely extinct.
So there appears to be a war going on in Democratic heaven. The question is, “who plays Satan and who plays God in this Paradise Lost scenario?” And then there’s always the question of which one will win.