We form impressions of people by watching them and observing what they do. The longer we watch them, the better we feel we know them. Some people we like and some we do not.
How do they carry themselves? What do they look like? What do they say and how do they say it? Our impression tells us whether or not they are our kind of people. This explains Wisconsin’s love affair with Brett Favre, Gorman Thomas, and in politics, Tommy Thompson.
For a career politician Tommy had an innate ability to connect with all kinds of people. They didn’t need a subscription to the Financial Times to feel that Tommy had a handle on the economy and he’d make smart decisions for Wisconsin workers. He was a guy who swam in deep political waters who people continued to see as one of us.
The contrast between Tommy and Governor Jim Doyle is astonishing. The contrast was hammered home this weekend when the workers at Mercury Marine rejected the company’s offer, a decision that will inevitably end in a plant closing and hundreds of jobs moving to Oklahoma.
While Mercury Marine management and the union were the principle actors in this economic theatre, our governor stood by watching from a distance. He refused to get involved. When told of the union vote Governor Doyle issued a tepid statement that the union and company management should resolve their difference so the company could remain in Wisconsin.
People are right to ask why is there such reluctance on the part of our governor to impose himself in the discussion to get a deal so the jobs can remain in Wisconsin? Where was the passion he tried to show at the eleventh hour in Janesville?
Our impression is that our governor’s heart really is not in saving jobs. He’s a guy who likes to talk about saving jobs and creating new jobs but he is unwilling to leave Madison to make it happen. Too, helping companies save jobs requires a basic willingness to support business. Our impression is that Governor Jim Doyle cannot bring himself to do that.
He’s a guy who seems itching for a scrap, any scrap with business. When GM announced that they were likely to close the Janesville plant, our governor came out swinging, talking of “bad corporate decisions” and threatening legal action to get state government’s training money back. He’s a guy who went straight to class warfare to help balance the state budget. His budget selectively increased taxes paid by businesses and people who manage businesses.
He’s guy who has been quick to pit businesses against workers. Rather than using his bully pulpit to make management and labor understand that creating jobs is mutually beneficial, he never misses an opportunity to stick it to the man. No one will be shocked when he issues a statement blasting Mercury Marine management for its decision to relocate jobs to Oklahoma.
Our governor had his chance to act the way we’d like a governor to act and he passed it up. Given the distance he kept from Mercury Marine you would have surmised they produced nuclear waste, not boat motors. At the critical moment for Fond du Lac he did nothing. And another Wisconsin community has come to see that he is not one of us.
So our impression of Governor Jim Doyle is that he is a fellow given to complaint and a novice at knowing how to keep jobs in Wisconsin. As a result we expect that he will noisily preside over the demise of another signature business that built Wisconsin.
-August 24, 2009