Saturday, April 22, 2023

Do Your Job

It's probably a coincidence that Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein represent the same state. California is an overwhelmingly Democratic state and a huge one. Still, it bears noting that, despite dramatically different motivations, the governor and the senator are doing something similar, and it's not good in either case.

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf, noting that the governor of the state which in recent years has undergone devastating drought and now faces a large budget deficit and the possibility of crippling floods, has been spending a lot of time out-of-state. He has formed a  PAC called the Campaign for Democracy, has rented billboards and taken out television advertisements in GOP-dominated states, and pledges "we're going on the road to take the fight to states where freedom is most under attack." Friedersdorf observes

Taking “the fight to” authoritarians turns out to mean staging PR events in their jurisdictions. So far this month, Newsom has traveled to Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida, criticizing Republicans at every stop....

But why? Newsom has no political power in those states. He is so sufficiently unpopular among their voters that his presence there is as likely to help as hurt GOP governors. And, most important, his travels are a dereliction of the job he sought and won, because governors have a responsibility to focus on the problems that afflict their own state.

In the video below, after Krystal Ball notes that Democrats have only limited ability in the absence of Feinstein to investigate the thoroughly corrupt Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Saagar Enjeti notes (at 3:11)

You're 89 years old; you're not showing up for work; you're holding up the process. You're an active thorn in the side of ongoing efforts that are vitally important- allegedly- to the Democratic Party....

The worst defense I saw was, well, sometimes we have colleagues that have been gone for a year and we didn't kick them out. I'm like- well, why not, that's one-sixth of your job!

Ball adds "that's the question, is do we know if she'll even be able to return to do the job whatsoever."

Even if Feinstein does return, there is a question of whether she will be able to do the job adequately, given the Senator's apparent mental decline of recent years. Nonetheless, there appears to be only two (Democratic)  US Representatives- the progressive Ro Khanna of California and the center-right Dean Phillips of Minnesota- who have publicly urged Feinstein to resign. Even the blunt and reportedly bold Senator Bernie Sanders has stated (at 1:55 of this link)

Well, I have not talked to Senator Feinstein in several weeks. My hope is that she'll be back as soon as possible. The decision as to whether somebody should resign rests on that individual themselves. I don't think that she should be forced out. I think she should take into consideration her health status and whether she should be back.

Contrary to this viewpoint, Democratic leaders should consider her health status. As Ball asks rhetorically

The other thing I can't help but think of listening to (presidential Press Secretary) Karine Jean-Pierre there is can you imagine the Republicans allowing something like this to happen and hamstring their ability to push judges through? You think Mitch McConnell would allow anything to get in the way of getting his judges on the bench? Not a chance in hell.

Friedersdorf recognizes that "governors have a responsibility to focus on the problems that afflict their own state"

used to go without saying. Now, however, leaders of organizations as varied as state governments, corporations, universities, museums, and theater companies have convinced themselves that good leadership entails issuing virtuous pronouncements on matters outside their realm of authority, often to denounce ills that have little to do with their job and its actual challenges.

In a phenomenon increasingly common, individuals ignore the role to which they're entrusted in favor of assuming the role they prefer- or fail to perform the job at all.  When it is Democratic officials, they help foster the impression that Democrats aren't governing, can't govern and don't deserve to govern.


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