Saturday, December 23, 2006
NOW COMES news that James S. Gilmore III, the highhanded, dissent-averse and altogether unsuccessful ex-governor of Virginia, is weighing a run for the Republican nomination for president. Heaven help us. For if Mr. Gilmore does to the 50 states what he did to the Old Dominion, the federal government might as well declare bankruptcy now.
Let's review the sorry Gilmore record. After taking office amid boom times in 1998, Mr. Gilmore immediately set about draining Virginia's coffers by promoting ill-advised tax cuts that, when the predictable economic downturn arrived, left the state penniless. He pushed ahead with his narrow political agenda of eliminating the state's car tax despite repeated warnings of the dire consequences, which included diverting funds that should have gone to transportation and public education. (If you're mad about traffic and the state's neglected roads, Mr. Gilmore is high on the list of people to blame.)
As a swan song near the end of his four-year term, Mr. Gilmore forced a bitter budget impasse with the legislature, unprecedented in Virginia, that enraged Republicans and Democrats alike and torpedoed the election prospects of his own party's nominee to succeed him as governor. When he finally left office in 2002 -- condemned by both liberal and libertarian think tanks for his managerial incompetence -- Mr. Gilmore bequeathed to his successor, Mark Warner, a budgetary mess that Mr. Warner spent a good part of his own governorship trying to clean up. All in all, a terrible performance by Mr. Gilmore.
Let's summarize: A former governor from the South, zealous about tax-cutting and allergic to opposing views, who stubbornly insists on ill-fated policies despite abundant and well-founded warnings that they are leading to ruin. Maybe this guy is presidential material after all.