Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign-reset speech last week has been described as “contrite,” a “mea culpa” and even an “apology.”
It most certainly wasn’t an easy speech to deliver for a man who never publicly admits mistakes. I mean, he claimed last month that his administration did an “excellent job” at the state’s Quincy veterans home, where 14 residents died.
But there he was, claiming that after four years he’s learned some valuable lessons.
I actually do believe, as Rauner claimed, that he’s “grown” in office. He had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it, but he’s grown some.
After losing the budget and tax hike veto battle last year, Rauner eventually found a way to accept a win by signing an historic education funding reform bill. And then he agreed to his very first budget this year, which spent every dime of that 2017 tax hike and more.
Rauner said leaders must be willing to “accept incremental improvements,” and thank goodness he finally mouthed those words. As former President Barack Obama said at his recent Illinois speech: “Better is good… That’s the history of progress in this country. Not perfect. Better.”
The governor said he now finally understands that there are “different points of view, different priorities and approaches, even when we share the same goal of wanting to improve Illinois.”
As former Gov. Jim Edgar said during the impasse, Rauner should look for ways to accomplish his goals in a more “doable” manner. Rauner and the Chicago Tribune editorial board absolutely hated that “doable” talk. For whatever insane reasons they’d convinced themselves that “doable” was an abomination. It was their way or no way. At least one person now at least says that was a mistake.
“I know the budget impasse was painful,” Gov. Rauner admitted. “It kept me up at night worrying about the disruption that many families experienced. All of us elected officials let you down in that struggle.”
While I’m glad he finally confessed that he was at least a part of a group that let the state down, he bragged more than once during the impasse about how “my wife tells me she hasn’t seen me this happy in 20 years,” including right up to late June of 2017 – just days before a bipartisan super-majority in the General Assembly finally put an end to the monstrous impasse despite his vetoes.
Passing a budget with higher taxes over a gubernatorial veto wasn’t easy for most legislators. And while it wasn’t great legislation, it was the best they could do under trying circumstances and Rauner did everything he could to stop them and went on to berate and bully them for months. I’d like to believe that those days are over.
“It takes wisdom to listen to those who disagree with you,” Rauner said, “wisdom that can be gained only through years of tough political fights.”
Sorry, but that simple lesson could’ve been learned without years of unnecessary brutality. Most normal people practice this “wisdom” in their own lives every day.
The governor seemed to use that line to imply that his politically inexperienced opponent hadn’t yet faced a trial by fire like Rauner has and therefore wasn’t yet ready to be governor. But, the truth is most people know this stuff. They don’t burn down their own houses during an argument.
And just a few hours after he delivered his speech, the governor received yet another reminder that Illinois voters understand what Gov. Rauner only now claims to have discerned.
A mere 27 percent of Illinoisans say they’ll vote for the governor come November, according to a poll conducted for the Illinois Broadcasters Association. Just 24 percent said they have a favorable view of Rauner. The governor trails Democrat J.B. Pritzker by 17 points.
This is the third poll since June where the governor scored 30 points or less.
We know from the end of his speech that the governor truly believes his opponent is the worst thing that could possibly happen to the state — which kinda negates a lot of the stuff he said at the beginning about being so open minded.
He could’ve ended on a high note, but chose to drive right back into the ditch. “He might be the only person in Illinois who doesn’t think corruption is a problem,” Rauner said of Pritzker. Oh, c’mon.
But, hey, it’s politics. Both men are going to wage a bitterly negative fight to the end no matter what the polls say or how much one of them promises to change. Strap it down.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.