Maybe we deserve it.
The uproar over Gov. Eric Greitens’ marital affair and the devastating impact this will have on the 2018 Missouri legislative session are the result of a searing reality that voters must now confront:
We really didn’t know him all that well.
Greitens burst onto the scene in 2016 as another example of the hottest commodity on the political circuit these days. That is, he was a fresh-faced wonder boy untainted by previous elected office.
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He was a Navy SEAL. A Rhodes Scholar. A family man. The successful overseer of a burgeoning nonprofit aimed at helping military veterans. And he blew stuff up with big guns. In the eyes of so many, that made him the perfect candidate for governor.
Now, though, legions of Missourians, including a growing number of members of Greitens’ Republican Party, are rethinking that assumption. Turns out he wasn’t so perfect after all.
The scandal enveloping Greitens and his administration over his 2015 affair and allegations of blackmail threatens to drive the one-year governor from office. The fact the story broke on the very night that Greitens delivered his second State of the State address only makes the situation far sorrier.
This was to be the year that the young governor — Greitens is 43 — hit his stride and oversaw passage of sweeping tax cuts and help for foster kids.
There was talk about an eventual White House run, about his close relationship with Vice President Mike Pence that carried with it all manner of promise, about his status as an in-demand rising star welcome at any political banquet from Sarasota to Seattle.
All that now is lost — as completely and decisively as another season-ending game for our Chiefs.
Greitens’ once-promising administration hangs by a thread.
Today’s lesson, though, is less about Eric Greitens than our penchant for jumping head over heels for the next shiny object that bounces across our TV screens. We’ve convinced ourselves that experience in public service ranks as a demerit. A resume as an elected official automatically disqualifies candidates for higher office because that means they’ve “lost touch with real people” and “become corrupted by the system.”
Outsiders, by virtue of the fact that they’ve never worked in the political world, are seen as precisely the right people to clean it up. Because they know how to do one thing well, we assume that they easily can navigate the silly kingdom of politics.
Case in point? There’s President Donald Trump, of course. And say hello to Jackson County Executive Frank White, who was great at ranging to his left for ground balls, but seems to know next to nothing about running a medium-sized governmental entity.
By the way, how did political newcomer Mark Funkhouser work out for you all?
Anybody know if Tom Brady is thinking about it?
Yes, plenty of experienced politicians have bitten the dust, right Richard Nixon? But as Trump and Greitens are proving, these jobs are nothing but tough. Time spent in the political spotlight goes a long way toward helping voters understand who these people really are and what drives them.
A little experience may not be such a bad thing after all.