Bob Holden Deserves An 'A'

Editorial written by Martha Throebeck on Sunday, July 22, 2001

from the let's-give-him-a-fair-shake dept.

That headline is not a typo. We here at The Cape Rock have analyzed Missouri Governor Bob Holden's performance during his first six months in office. Overall, we would give the Governor high marks for his accomplishments.

In particular, Mr. B. Holden's recent executive order allowing unions to deduct "service fees" from state workers' paychecks is an example of sheer genius unmatched by any governor in Missouri history. The Governor promised that he would pay off his inauguration debts, and that's exactly what this executive order will do. He deserves a solid 'A+' for this accomplishment.

But that's not all.

Others have condemned Gov. Holden's frequent use of aircraft to jet around the state. But his extravagant forays into the "friendly skies" represent a brilliant stroke of political acumen. It's a form of protest against the crumbling roads and highways in Missouri.

Holden has long campaigned for an overhaul of the Missouri Department of Transportation, along with massive increases in highway funding. What better way to say "MoDOT sucks" than by refusing to set foot on even a single state highway?

His use of state aircraft might seem extravagant, but it's completely necessary. If you had to be in four cities during one day to sign a bill authorizing "Bird Appreciation Day", you wouldn't want to be stuck in traffic on I-270, or worse, have your luxury stretch limosine get swallowed by a pothole on I-70.

Therefore, Holden deserves an 'A' for sticking it to MoDOT with his extravagant but justified use of air travel.

But that's not all.

Gov. Holden and his staff have certainly mastered the fine art of public relations and spin control. For instance:

  • Even though the executive order authorizing collective bargaining by state workers won't have any impact on working conditions or salary (because such things are ultimately controlled by the legislature), Holden has marketed the order as a way to "ensure that our state employee voices are heard." What he doesn't say -- and this is where his masterful use of Machiavellian politics comes into play -- is that those voices will be shouting "Quit cutting our paychecks!"

  • He defended his million dollar inauguration party by pointing out that it was "family themed" and "featured less alcohol than previous parties". He said that the inauguration was "for the children", a favorite argument of successful politicians. His only PR blunder was to actually admit that he "spent too much money", but even a rookie Governor can be expected to make a few mistakes.

  • While his major legislative proposals failed, Holden still boasted that "15 out of 18" of his bills successfully became law. He of course never specified which 15 bills the General Assembly actually approved, which makes this a superb example of spin.

  • Like any other successful politician, Holden has blamed other people for the state's problems. The gridlock in the legislature was caused by Republicans who took control during the session. The financial crunch was caused by forces outside of his control.

    Certainly Mr. Bob Holden deserves a solid 'A' for his deftness at passing the buck, a necessary skill for survival in politics at the major-league level.

But that's not all.

Mr. Bob Holden's actions in connection with the state "budget crisis" are simply remarkable. As the former State Treasurer, he alone knows that the "budget crisis" only exists on paper -- and in his speeches.

The Department of Revenue has been reporting that tax revenue collections increased over 4 percent last fiscal year. This little-known fact shows that the "budget crisis" is not nearly as serious as the Governor lets on.

In a few months, Holden will reveal that tax collections have unexpectedly increased, providing plenty of money for the state coffers. Suddenly he will become the "hero" for "solving" the "financial mess" by slashing the budgets of various state agencies to the bone. Eventually, the Governor will have a large surplus to spend on his own pet projects, thus increasing his prestige and political clout.

Words cannot describe the sheer brilliance and cunning of this political strategy. If this plan succeeds, he will effectively cut the state's spending while increasing the state's spending at the same time. Anybody who can pull off that paradoxical feat deserves a solid 'A+'.

Conclusion

The Cape Rock would like to compliment Gov. Holden for his fine work during the first half of 2001. While the naysayers in Jeff City refer to the Governor as "One Run Bob", we expect that the voters of Missouri will rise to the challenge and see to it that Holden is around for eight years -- in prison.