Back in 2010 I was sounding the alarms that Pennsylvania might be about to elect an idiot for a Governor. Not an idiot like, I don’t like his policy agenda so I’ll call him a mean name, but an actual honest-to-God idiot:
To bring this back to the title of the post, it is increasingly apparent that Tom Corbett is not a smart man. He is routinely bungling basic facts like this about the economy and giving vague slogans as answers. I know it sounds terribly impolite, but nobody wanted to ask this in the 2000 Election either. Reporters just assumed that since George Bush had an MBA and was Governor of Texas (largely a figurehead position) he had to be a pretty smart guy right? There’s no way a total idiot could get that high up in politics right? Sadly it is all too possible, when nobody asks the impolite questions.
But the facts are staring us in the face. This guy has no idea what’s going on.
By some very important metrics, Corbett is a pretty bad Attorney General. He has politicized Bonusgate, targeting primarily Democrats while failing to investigate Jane Orie. Corbett is also a terrible manager – a “delegator” just like Bush who has no idea what’s going on in his own office, while contractors loot overcharge taxpayers.
Is there actually a job Corbett has had that he has demonstrated some skill at? Can anybody find any evidence that he has more than a surface understanding of the issues? Or is Pennsylvania about to elect its own George W. Bush?
That certainly did seem impolite to people at the time, but over the past few years I think the theory has held up shockingly well. I’ve heard confirmation of this on background from staffers and even Republicans who have interacted with our Governor – the guy’s understanding of the issues is slogan-level, and at every turn, he seems to keep screwing up really basic stuff. Like that time his staff knew in advance about the unemployment question and he still made that ridiculous gaffe about the unemployed being drugged out. Could it be that we’ve simply elected a kindly sheltered old man who finds conservative slogans appealing, but actually is totally inept at politics and public policy?
Call it the Lil’ Kevin theory of the Tom Corbett administration. In the episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia entitled “Sweet Dee’s Dating a Retarded Person,” Dee starts dating a local celebrity rapper Lil’ Kevin, but her brother Dennis is sure he remembers Kevin being a special ed student in elementary school. It is hard indeed to tell if Kevin’s style is just the sort of happy-go-lucky aloofness common to many musicians, or if he genuinely has a mental disability. So the two spend the rest of the episode searching for clues that could confirm or falsify Dennis’s theory, and when the balance of the evidence starts to suggest Dennis may be right, Dee asks Kevin directly, and hilarity ensues. Although we never really find out what Kevin’s deal is, the freestyle rap he unloads on Dee at the end of the episode suggests greater mental agility than viewers might have supposed up until that point.
Watching Tom Corbett’s Governorship has been a lot like watching this episode of Sunny before the last scene. Ample evidence has been mounting that the 2010 Tea Party wave may have swept an empty gourd into the Governor’s mansion, but political reporters understandably haven’t wanted to risk their reputations by raising the key piece of analysis that really ties so many of the bloopers over the last few years together. But our Lil’ Tom has yet to actually give us the freestyle rap moment that could allay doubts he has the brain wattage for high level political leadership.