Inside the Capitol

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2-18 Governor Talks Tough, Possibly

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- "Try me. Bring it on." Tough talk from Gov. Bill Richardson as he positions himself to combat impressions that he's a lame duck. The only problem is that he needs to be a smarter duck if his high and tight brush-back pitches are going to work.
Because Richardson's next words were "I've got possibly three more years here." The word "possibly" wipes out any attempt to strike fear into one's opponents.
You must threaten to be here three more years, guv, if you're going to succeed at convincing the enemy it should tremble in your presence. You can always change your tactics later.
But don't admit to the possibility that you may not be here when next year's Legislature rolls around. That doesn't leave much to be scared about.
You're doing fine with the beard. It makes you look tougher. And it covers your sagging visage. Very well done, actually. And your staff says it's hot.
But don't try to convince us you're decompressing. You're wound tighter now than when you left us a year ago. That presidential campaign really ramped up the pressure.
So don't start using words like possibly. That's going to turn you from a lame duck into a crippled duck. We know you're still looking. We've known for five years that you have your eyes on bigger things. We've heard about your planned foreign diplomatic visits.
So keep the tough guy image. But keep us thinking you'll still be knocking around here for awhile. It will help you pay off that campaign debt. You're going to have to get most of that money out of New Mexicans and they need to think you will still be around to be their governor.
And here's another suggestion. Be nicer to your friends. You'll need them. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has been a loyal soldier for five years. You're about to mess that up.
Senate leaders say you have about 16 state police protecting you. And yet you're not willing to share any of them with your lieutenant governor even when you're out of state. Do you really need that much protection if you're such a tough guy?
Forty years ago, when college students were rioting and National Guard troops were called out to the University of New Mexico campus, Dave Cargo and Bruce King had two state policemen protecting them, Red Pack and a guy to keep him company.
What's so dangerous now that you need 16 police? If you need that many, a female lieutenant governor who spends much of her time filling in for you must need at least as much protection. How about sharing a couple of those with her?
Around your office, they're everywhere. I know you need some of them to drive you fast around the state. But what do the rest do? It makes one suspect they're not really doing police duties.
The only time the lieutenant governor became exasperated with you in the past was two years ago when a news photographer caught you constantly poking at her. She didn't complain until prodded by a reporter. Her observation was that you were acting like a little brother.
And now you're doing it again. You're refusing to share. Do you really need all 16 of your security force when you're out of state? I know you take some with you and we pay their travel expenses. But don't you leave some here who could protect her?
The Legislature appropriated her a good chunk of money for state police protection while you're gone. But even then she couldn't get any help. So she hired private security and you said that means she doesn't need the state police. You've learned to play Catch 22 very well.
And now you've vetoed the money lawmakers put in the budget for her security next year. Lighten up, governor, and play fair.
This doesn't make you look very tough.
MON, 2-18-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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