Former governor shares opinions about political climate
By BRUCE A. SCRUTON
BLAIRSTOWN — Sarah Palin is not presidential material, governor-elect Chris Christie has a major task in front of him and the language on talk radio “leads to hatred.”
Those were among many points made Monday by Christie Todd Whitman, the last Republican, and first woman, to hold the governor’s seat in New Jersey.
She said incoming governor Chris Christie faces huge financial problems because much of the tax burden in New Jersey is local property taxes.
“I know he’ll try, but he’ll have a really tough job,” despite the fact the governorship in New Jersey is “the most powerful in the entire country,” said Whitman, who had the job from 1994 until she resigned to become head of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 under President George W. Bush.
When asked about vice-presidential candidate Palin’s future in the party, a muted chuckle moved through the Blairstown Academy audience.
Palin “will get a lot of press” on her book tour “will be a person who will speak out,” Whitman said, but added a caveat: “I don’t think she will be presidential material in the future.”
While Whitman listed several Republican newsmakers who she said “think of themselves as being the next candidate,” she would prefer the GOP nominate a governor and “an actual woman as head of the ticket. Not just on it, but heading it up.”
Whitman said governors have the experience of running a government and that lack of experience troubles her with President Barack Obama’s first few months in office.
He came into office with “enormous expectations, way out of proportion to what is reasonable,” she said.
She said one sign of the inexperience is the White House has not sent actual bills to Congress for action, but rather has sent ideas.
“You don’t expect to get your bill passed exactly how you wrote it, but it is a starting point,” she said.
“But I want (Obama) to succeed because I care very much for this country,” she added.
Whitman noted that 1993, when she was elected governor, was similar to this past month’s election. Republicans won in New Jersey and Virginia and took the mayoral race in New York City, just a year after Bill Clinton, “a young vibrant president,” took office.
The next year, the GOP took control of Congress. They had one thing Republicans don’t have now — the Contract with America.
Americans “didn’t know what was in it, they didn’t read all the way through it, but they liked the idea,” she said.
There is no Newt Gingrich for the GOP now and she doubts the Republicans will make much headway in the 2010 elections.
Of the current political climate, Whitman said both political parties have moved to the extremes since the extremes are the people who vote in primaries and are the voices being heard.
She said social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, have become “moral issues,” to the point where “if you don’t agree with me on this moral issue, you must be immoral and I won’t talk to you.”
There is a great middle ground where most people stand, she noted, and “it really does matter when people get involved.”
She urged the students in the audience to get involved as early as possible because they can make a difference and “it’s really your future we’re messing up.”