Friday, February 24, 2006

Time For House Democrats To Find A Closet To Hide Bauer

There's an old saying that you should never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. That's very good advice that the House Democrat's long-time leader would do well to heed. Even better advice for the House Democrats would be to find some way of hiding Pat Bauer in a closet until after the election.

Pat Bauer has been representing South Bend in the state legislature for almost four decades. It's been so long his legislative biography wisely omits that bit of information. He's also a doube-dipper, a term for lawmakers who hold down another government job in addition to their legislative position. In Bauer's case, that means he is paid a six-figure salary to serve as Dean of External Affairs for Ivy Tech State College, which is short-hand for making sure that Ivy Tech's budget is well taken care of.

The legislative health care perk, which has come under so much public scrutiny this election year, was originally crafted by Bauer's predecessor, former House Speaker John Gregg, along with Senate President Pro Tem Bob Garton. Bauer did nothing to alter the plan while he served as Speaker, but his successor, Brian Bosma, has taken steps to eliminate the perk altogether prospectively for all House members after this year. A wise political step for Bosma, we might add, in what has otherwise been a tenure marked by one misstep after another.

During much of his tenure as House Speaker, Bosma has acted more like the host of the Old Time Gospel Hour than the leader of the people's house. To many forward-thinking Hoosiers, his Christian theological theatrics have turned the state into the laughing stock of the country. They would much rather see the House turn its attention to matters which can make a real difference in their lives, such as the availability of good-paying jobs and affordable health care. Rule by a so-called "Moral Majority" is frankly discomforting to most Hoosiers, and to the extent House Democrats can appear to be the lesser of two evils, their odds of retaking the House this year are pretty good. But instead of distancing House Democrats from Bosma's holier than thou antics, Bauer has been standing next to Bosma holding his hand.

So why pray tell would Pat Bauer give any room for people to think leadership under the Democrats might be any worse? Yet he did exactly that again by falling into a trap of communicating to the Star's Matt Tully, by inference, that he has a secret plan to resurrect the health insurance perk Bosma has just deep-sixed. Tully writes, "House Democratic leader Pat Bauer, the tipsters said, has told his rank and file he plans to resurrect the notorious lifetime health plan for ex-legislators if he is elected speaker after the November elections." Unable to get a direct answer or a flat out denial, Tully finally asks Bauer, "Did Bauer, as many in the Statehouse halls say, talk some House Democrats out of retiring by vowing to restore their lifetime health benefits?" It's much more complicated than that," he said, frustratingly. No, Pat, it's very simple. All you need to do is say this: 'I won't bring the perk back.' I gave him several chances to say that as we talked. He didn't."

Indiana Legislative Insight reports today that the House Democrats' former chief of staff, Tim Jeffers, will be managing their parties' efforts to recapture control of the House. The first thing he should do is to hide Pat Bauer in a closet somewhere as far away from public view as possible. Let's face it, a man who shows up in public wearing a rat's nest for a hair piece has a credibility problem right out of the starting gate. You have to find a messenger who people can stop laughing at and who they will start listening to. Pat Bauer is not that person.

And if the House Democrats are successful in retaking the House this year, they should do all Hoosiers a favor by finding someone from a different generation with an entirely different perspective to lead the House.


Anonymous said...

Thank God they chose Tim Jeffers to manage the House campaign. He'll good a good job, and Dems stand an excellent chance of winning back the Assembly with him in charge.

I heard through the grapevine that Troy Liggett, who had the position two years ago and who frittered away every advantage and lost the Democrats' majority through utter incompetence, actually had the gall to apply for the position again this year. Anyone know if that's true?

Marti said...

Ya know, it's funny... I made a joke to my son Nik about men that wear rugs shouldn't be trusted because they're hiding something from the get go. Funny how it's worked out that's the case. Who's rug is worse.... Bosma's or Bauer's?

As a Yellow Dog Dem that's leaning Green, I pray for a young progressive that will actually be a leader, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.