Sunday, April 25, 2010


Disappeared memory: 2008, dear editor, was an election year

by Larry Geller

2008 was an election year, as is 2010. Election years are not the best time to expect truth-telling from ambitious politicians. This realization could have transformed today’s Advertiser editorial into a valuable lesson for any still gullible readers. It certainly might answer the question the editor is asking.

Today’s Honolulu Advertiser editorial, The high cost of economic optimism (4/25/2010) questions why Governor Linda Lingle, “one of the state's most intelligent and analytical executives,” described Hawaii’s economic condition as "stable and healthy" back in 2008 even as our economy was collapsing. Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines had just shut down, yet she ignored the bad news:

The point of this trip in the way-back machine isn't to embarrass Lingle, but to point out how ill-prepared Hawai'i's leaders were to deal with the budgetary horrors that were to come.

It's still hard to understand why Lingle, one of the state's most intelligent and analytical executives, shrugged off the loss of 18 percent of the state's air capacity and didn't see that it would deeply wound the tourism industry. That, in turn, helped reduce tax collections by more than $1 billion from 2007 to 2009. (Two years later, the air capacity still hasn't fully returned.)

It was an election year. Speculation was rife that Linda Lingle could be chosen as McCain’s running mate on the Republican ticket. So ambition might have been the motive when she spouted that “stable and healthy” economy line just then. News reports of a failing Hawaii economy would hurt her prospects for something national. And that’s exactly what was in the air at that time, Google turns up numerous articles like these:


Maui News

The hype was so strong here that the Maui News mixed editorial opinion into its news coverage asking “Why Lingle?”:

Maui News 2

Speculation was rife that Lingle was hoping for some national appointment even after Republicans chose Palin for the VP spot. Lingle left Hawaii to campaign for the McCain ticket, never mind the faltering economy and other problems needing her attention.

The editorial also omits that Lingle has indeed been a penny pincher, though perhaps not in the Ariyoshi mold. One of her first vetoes was for $43,000 in services for the blind. She has withheld money from vitally needed senior services. There was no hesitation about shutting down the only Club House providing support to the mental health community on Molokai. There's a clear pattern to this.

The moral of the tale

2010 is an election year as well. Television is swamped with commercials for the 1st Congressional District candidates.

As we listen to those boasts and promises, maybe we should keep in mind the unwritten lesson of today’s editorial. Politicians, spending corporate money to gain election, will say whatever it takes to convince you to vote for them.

If we picked our elected representatives by their voting records or experience rather than by their rhetoric, wouldn’t we have a better government than we have today?


As seen in that picture, the headline was "Why not Lingle?"

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