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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/8/13

Tom Corbett's Sizzle has Fizzled

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Tom Corbett
Tom Corbett
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by Walter Brasch


With his popularity about the same as a hairy wart, Gov. Tom Corbett (R-Pa.) had to make some critical changes in his administration if he has any hope of winning a second term in 2014.

There are many things he could have done.

He could have increased funding to education. Shortly after he took office, he slashed educational funding, including half the budget of the 14 state-owned universities. But he decided education wasn't all that important.

He could have restored some of the budget to child care services, programs for the disabled, and the state parks and forests. But, he didn't do that.

Tom Corbett could have made his statement for austerity by reducing his out-of-state travel, which included trips to Chile, Brazil, France, and Germany. But, he didn't do that either.

He didn't have to buy a $265,000 vacation condo in Hilton Head, South Carolina. That got him a double dose of stupid. First, he has been taking the media on state-sponsored trips all over Pennsylvania to show how great a state it is, and what a wonderful place it is to vacation. And then, as if buying a vacation home in South Carolina while governor wasn't bad enough, he just happened to forget to include that in his annual Code of Conduct statement. That Code, begun under the governorship of Dick Thornburgh, requires all members of the executive branch to disclose all real estate holdings, with the exception of the primary residence.

Not long after becoming governor, he announced he wanted to privatize just about everything--the turnpike, liquor stores, and even the lottery, leading the people to wonder why he became governor if his wish was to eliminate government. Alas, he found that he couldn't even convince his own Republican legislature to follow his path. As for the lottery, a Franklin & Marshall poll revealed that only 18 percent of the voters thought the lottery should be run by a private company, especially the foreign-owned company he had hand-picked.

He could have saved the state at least $500,000 if he didn't sue the NCAA to overturn the sanctions against Penn State. He may have believed that since he was on the Penn State board of trustees he had standing to sue. Alas, the former attorney general--under whose watch the crimes were committed, but Jerry Sandusky wasn't arrested--probably just had a slight "mental lapse." Penn State, in spite of its name, is not a Pennsylvania state-owned university, but a private university. Nevertheless, Corbett's attempt to placate outraged PennState fans, most of whom seemed to throw scorn his way for how he failed to prosecute Sandusky and who manipulated the firing of Joe Paterno, became nothing less than an embarrassment when a federal court threw out his suit even before it got to the discovery phase. In doing so, Corbett single-handedly made the NCAA look like a sympathetic figure.

He could also save the state millions of dollars by not committing tax dollars to hiring a private legal firm to pursue actions against gay marriages. The Supreme Court has already ruled that banning gay marriages are unconstitutional, but Corbett, who is obviously appealing to a fundamentalist base, undoubtedly believes that rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States don't matter. Perhaps, someone should check his law school credentials.

This is the same Corbett who has vigorously pursued Voter ID restrictions, the most severe in the country, claiming they will reduce fraud at the polls. However, when challenged in court, his administration couldn't produce verifiable data that there was any fraud. The intent of the new laws was clear, however, when House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R), claimed that the purpose of the Voter ID law was to help elect Mitt Romney to the presidency. 

There's also a lot Tom Corbett didn't have to say, but did.

He didn't have to say that he had no Latinos on his staff, and then suggest, "If you can find us one, please let me know." For the record, Governor, there are 800,000 Latinos living in Pennsylvania, and none are hiding in caves.

In support of proposed legislation that would have required all women undergoing abortions, even if they are to save her life, he didn't have to support a demand that physicians run invasive tests and then be required to tell women the results; for the women, who had no desire to see the ultrasound, he dismissed their concerns as, "You just have to close your eyes."

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Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)

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