In yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch, Columnist Joe Hallett wrote a piece that began with these paragraphs:
As President Andrew Shepherd, Michael Douglas makes a dramatic speech in the movie The American President, saying, “We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them.”
Gov. Ted Strickland and his probable Republican opponent next year, former Congressman John Kasich, should memorize that line. If the present is a guide, neither seems serious enough about solving Ohio’s problems to warrant the job.
Neither seems serious enough? Why the forced moral equivalence, Mr. Hallett? One is the current elected chief executive of Ohio, and the other is a candidate with 15 months to explain in detail where he stands. Assigning Kasich with the obligation to inject himself into this debate is downright irresponsible.
As the column continues, Hallett goes on to rip Stricktaft with the usual criticisms that we’ve come to expect, then once again criticizes Kasich for not suggesting how he would respond in the same situation. While Hallett acknowledges that this choice is safe politically speaking, he still doesn’t hesitate to bash him.
But as Ohio’s would-be chief executive in years that portend continued financial upheaval, Kasich has an obligation to tell voters how he would handle the state budget.
With this statement Hallett neglects the fact that Kasich injecting his opinion isn’t fair to the process from a policy perspective. We all can agree that Kasich must eventually outline how he would manage the state, and with no doubt he will. But if he had meddled into the budget negotiations, as Hallett proposed, he would have done so as an unelected private citizen adding yet another voice to the absolute mess of a situation.
Our elected officials have a duty to represent the people. They are tasked with managing a state government that enables Ohioans an opportunity to create a better place to work and live. And they have a duty to develop a responsible budget every two years.
It’s unfair to Ohioans to add an unelected voice to the chorus trying to do their jobs representing the people while in the midst of the budget process.
We have campaigns for a reason – to give voters ample opportunity to learn about the candidates before election day.
Simply because Kasich has announced his candidacy does not mean he has an obligation to have fully developed policy proposals with only a skeleton staff tasked with getting his campaign up and running.
Mr. Hallett, there are 477 days until November 2nd, 2010. Make no mistake, John Kasich will give Ohioans a vast understanding of how he will govern and where he stands. And he has plenty of time to do so.
But meddling into matters yet to be decided is not a responsible way to educate the voters.