Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Governor John R. Kasich

John Kasich is a passionate man. He is anxious to roll up his sleeves and solve the problems that have plagued Ohio for over a generation. Because he is passionate, he is vulnerable to being portrayed as the bull in a china shop and prone to the occasional gaffe (such as an opinion he expressed last month about state employees). He left a bad taste in many mouths for the rabid negativism of his campaign against Gov. Ted Strickland. It seems, however, that political campaigning brings out the worst in otherwise worthy and virtuous people. On the other hand, I remember him as an energetic Congressman who wanted to show the American people what fiscal responsibility looked like; and partly as a result of his prodding, the federal budget was balanced from 1998 to 2000.

The purpose of an inaugural address* is to set the tone for an administration, to help the citizens understand where the new Governor is coming from, and to provide a general direction. Policy matters are deferred to the State of the State address, usually given in March.
The inaugural address, which Gov. Kasich says he wrote on Christmas Day, did not convey the arrogance that sometimes came across during the campaign. Rather, it was a statement of his fundamental values: faith, family, friends, and teamwork.

On teamwork:
I want to thank Ohioans, all Ohioans, for giving me the chance to form a team. To form a team. And to transform our great state. You know, years ago, I used the word “I” an awful lot. I don’t know whether it is age or whether it’s prayer or it’s the constant beating that my friends give me, but it’s not “I” any longer. It’s “we.” I learned long ago working with my great pal [U.S. House Speaker] John Boehner, only teams, only teams can accomplish great things. And you know, ’ole Woody was right, there is no “I” in team. And together, we, as Ohioans, can get this job done.

You know, my inauguration, the conductor of a great orchestra, with all of you playing an instrument in that orchestra, my inauguration is your inauguration. I want everyone to understand that I hope you can realize we accept this responsibility together. I have a sense that across Ohio, people know we have a challenge. So today, we’re all inaugurated into a better day. You know, I’m only a servant, I am only a servant, a public servant . I report to the people. I report to you, the people.

And, later, he said with refreshing humility, “I am a servant of the Lord.”

He shares an observation I have made in this space many times:
You see, Ohio has wide horizons, we have unlimited opportunity. Ohio is an exciting place. And I have come to understand as a grown man what Ohio is all about. We are about common sense. [Emphasis added]
Common sense. Reforming state government so it provides better services at less cost. With respect to doing more with less, this has been a mantra in state government since Gov. George Voinovich used those words in his first inaugural address twenty years ago. If anyone can bring innovation to Ohio government, it would seem to be John Kasich. It helps that he is supported in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly by Republican majorities.

Not that innovation will be easy:
It’s our mountain to climb. Can you see it? Can you see that mountain? I know you can. We can climb it. One step at a time. Helping each other to be strong. Together, that mountain, we will reach the summit.
When the going gets tough, when the legislature balks, when the newspapers are nipping at your heels, remember you said this, Gov. Kasich, and keep those words in your heart. In so doing, you will find success.

Best wishes for a successful Administration, Gov. Kasich.

* Text of Gov. Kasich’s inaugural address, from the Columbus Dispatch.

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