Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Apocalypse Not

I've read some dire predictions about what the Commonwealth faces now that it appears Gov. Benigno R. Fitial will be re-elected. Nothing new, of course, equally dire predictions were made before the runoff about the future under him and under Rep. Heinz S. Hofschneider, the challenger. Two sides, and support hardens to partisanship in the clinches.

I'm a fatalist myself. The government's profligate ways combined with the economy's retrenchment to form not the perfect storm, but the perfect doldrums. I had a definite preference, but there won't be much room to maneuver for either man.

The Pacific Daily News paints a pretty accurate picture in their election story. With a liability of 'close to $500 million' (David Sablan) or 'probably upwards of $1 billion' (Sam McPhetres), the government will likely be reacting to events rather than controlling them.

Any solutions will be complicated, as usual, by the fact that Rota and Tinian use their control of the Senate to say 'me too' and 'me three' whenever appropriations come around. (Another reason a union with Guam is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. They would never consent to having a Senate with veto power over their larger population, while Rota and Tinian would never give that up.)

Somehow, though the problems will be solved, or at least dealt with, simply because there is no other choice. There will be a lot of pain and suffering. The finger-pointing and second-guessing is likely to continue. More crisis management with the bottom signaled not with a bang but a whimper.

Some of Governor Fitial's detractors have said, or implied, that 'the feds' had a preference in this election, and it wasn't him. The Governor has done nothing to discourage that view. Personally, I view the federal government as a huge, amorphous caterpillar that doesn't have the motor skills to get all of its feet moving in the same direction.

Yes, the Department of Interior didn't announce the release of Compact Impact funds until after the runoff. The progress report on CUC's compliance with its stipulated order came out just before the election. But, at the same time, the Department of Homeland Security's postponement of immigration control until a week after the election seems almost calculated to help the incumbent.

People fear change, and boy, is federal immigration control a big one. Hofschneider and Speaker Arnold I. Palacios meant change from the current policies with their campaign slogan, but it got confounded with 'change to federal control'. In times of crisis it's 'don't change horses in midstream', 'stay the course', 'rally around the flag' or 'let it BE'. (Maybe it's just me, but 'let us finish the job' sounds a bit too ominous.)

My cynical side suspects that the thinking behind the lawsuit attempting to stop federalization was 'even if it doesn't work, it's great for the campaign.' I suppress that side, but it pops up again and suggests that the Marine Monument might have gotten a better reception if it hadn't been proposed with immigration control pending. Outsiders, pushing federalization and taking away local control all dovetail too neatly with the immigration narrative.

McPhetres brings up an interesting point in the PDN article: most of his students get a "warm and fuzzy feeling" from Fitial. I hadn't thought of that, and it's undoubtedly true, though I doubt he'll be pushing Saipanda dolls off of the Duty Free shelves.

I once told Bob Grimac, a former editor of the Marianas Variety that he would probably never understand CNMI politics if he didn't have some familiarity with big-city machine politics. Analogies are never exact, but that one has been pretty useful to me over the years.

The ward heelers were out in force in the gap between the general election and the runoff; you saw many of the free-lancers choosing up sides with their endorsements. Two things: 1) that's meant as an observation, not a judgment and, 2) I'm not saying the term applies to all of the people endorsing one camp or the other.

If you think I'm going to tell you which is which, well, that's tough. Do your own homework.

I've been amused and sometimes irritated by the spokespeople, politicians and columnists who throw out references to 'bloggers' instead of responding to a specific person. It's intellectually dishonest. A straw man: they win by default because you don't know who they're arguing with. *

I agree with some bloggers ten percent of the time and others 90 percent. Only one meets my exacting standards and is 99 percent correct. That's me. I resent being lumped into somebody's spew against bloggers in general.

For instance, here's David North reacting to the latest election. Another hollow man, but not me.

* Yes, I'm doing the same thing. Aren't you clever to catch it?

No comments: