I have long said and still fervently believe that only 1. your word and 2. your knowledge base are of much value at the Capitol. Friends, office space, maybe temporary titles are helpful but they can be fleeting and are often overrated. Not true of the two characteristics I cited initially in this column and our businessman-turned-politico now has neither.
First things first: Knowledge. Since our outsider, anti-government millionaire first arrived at the Capitol in January 2019, I and frankly many others have been amazed and saddened at how little he actually knew about the job he earned at the ballot box. Of course, it would have helped if he had bothered to vote occasionally, but prior to campaigning in 2018 he did very little. For example he only voted once for governor in the prior 20 years for the job he sought just three years ago.
That’s right. Once.
Then, before and after he moved into a Capitol corner office and the nearby mansion, he dissed the advice of former governors, legislative leaders, longtime agency directors and experienced, government staffers which led, of course, to last year’s bloodbath over his vetoes. Stitt not only rejected proposals he asked for, but he also clearly didn’t understand the consequences of having nearly 70% of his vetoes over-ridden by nearly every member of both the Senate and House.
That humiliation is why you saw in February all his goo-goo words, winks, handshakes and suck-ups to lawmakers during his State of the State speech. It was an admission that he had wasted two years laboring under the delusion that he was elected king, not governor; that there is only hisbranch of government; that only graduates of Oklahoma State University are worthy of cabinet rank consideration; that his way or the highway attitude works well in a democracy or, frankly, any of the other misconceptions he brought with him from Gateway Mortgage Co.
Second, as important as brainpower – the mechanism that allows continuous learning wrapped in existing knowledge – is, it is your personal commitment to keeping one’s word – by that I mean telling the truth – that is mandatory for success on NE 23rd Street. There are no such things as little white lies compared to big black ones. Using either one robs you of credibility and trust with the janitors and Supreme Court justices alike, both of whom do very important work for the people of Oklahoma.
I wish I could report the same for Stitt but I can’t. The truth to him is no more valuable than the word “maybe” which is the Capitol’s most famous mush word. For example, the governor’s recent and perhaps most egregious fib was reported this Sunday by the Oklahoman in which truth-stretching Stitt said – point blank – that SB131, written by good guys [Sen. Greg] McCortney and [Rep. Marcus] McEntyre, both Republicans, was always designed to put so called “guardrails” on his managed care copout.
No, as both authors of the bill have said, and one courageously did in the same Oklahoman story, it was written to keep the Oklahoma Medicaid program – including expansion approved by the voters – at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA).
So is this double-talk by the loose-tongued Stitt just another play on words from a politician passing through the Capitol or a really, really big deal? Neither precisely. However, it is a bald-faced lie that tries to put a smiley face on what will soon be a health disaster for tens of thousands of low income Oklahomans and does so by risking $2.4 billion with four large, nationwide insurance companies which have only two goals in life – increasing profits and cutting costs by reducing benefits.
Exaggerations, distortions, duplicity, double-talk are the watch words of an administration run by a shady businessman sued in numerous states for questionable ethics; who promised voters Top 10 rankings in quality of life categories and with the exception of one, perhaps two, has delivered none. He is a salesman who talks endlessly about caring for four million citizens and yet ignores or denigrates legislative Democrats who represent 40% of them.
In choosing Kevin Stitt in 2018, Republicans and many Democrats opted for the worst possible package in a candidate. He had zero government experience or knowledge, which I recognize is often rewarded in this state. His understanding for and appreciation of public education was and is nil which is a serious weakness since that’s where 93% of our students are enrolled. His expressed concern for the health of Oklahomans is provably phony as he opposed, and still does, expanding Medicaid which is why his managed care proposal is purposely designed to fail for everybody and everything involved … except the insurance companies and their bottom lines. And finally, voters bought into the glib, glad-handing dialogue of a fellow steeped in selling books door-to-door and mortgages on line but also one who didn’t know the difference between Medicare or Medicaid; or obviously what sovereignty meant to our 39 tribal nations; or, and finally, much about the Oklahoma Constitution.
Otherwise, why would he have violated his oath many, many times by signing obviously unconstitutional documents sent him by the men and women who claim to be “lawmakers” as they pass by wide margins anything and everything except concepts that can withstand the important test of constitutionality.
And in closing, a year from now, many of our friends and neighbors, some of whom are voters, will wander to the polls and opt for much of the same they experienced the last three years for four more years while falling for the same mad march toward mediocrity at best, but more likely our continued battle with Mississippi and Alabama for worst in class.
With Stitt as leader of the parade why would we expect any different result and that reminds me of the definition of insanity.
Never mind. Since you probably live in Oklahoma you already know all about that.