Beating Stitt requires different story
As they go about trying to unseat our self-congratulating governor, Democrats and those inclined for a change can't live in the 'other-side' pablum that passes for political discourse in this state
It’s the lack of shame, right?
Of all the things that gall Democrats, others inclined to vote for them and any who dare believe government not, as a default, be run like a business, because real people with real lives get caught in the middle and real people with real lives matter … it has to be the lack of shame our governor offers all day, every day, about everything, that’s most embarrassing.
That and his lack of any and all doubt. Honestly, if there’s a dictionary of phrases somewhere, “often wrong, never uncertain” must come with a picture of Kevin Stitt.
Monday was State of the State day at the statehouse and Stitt did not disappoint; which is to say, of course he disappointed.
He took longer than he took on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to invoke the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, about five minutes, so maybe that’s something.
About that, remember when Mack Brown’s Longhorns finally didn’t fail miserably and won their first Rose Bowl? Oklahoma played for the national championship a second straight season that year, but you didn’t hear Bob Stoops telling everybody about it, but all Mack Brown could say entering 2005 was “Rose Bowl.”
How’s the team look?
That’s Stitt with McGirt.
He can’t not say it.
Nor can he argue against it on the merits, or the law. He just doesn’t like it.
Monday, at least, he mentioned other things, too.
He went on and on about making Oklahoma the most business friendly state in the nation, before decrying the business medical marijuana has become in Oklahoma, actually complaining that a commercial license cost $2,500 here but “up to $181,000,” in California.
Pick a side, man.
“They were literally sold a bill of goods,” he said of the state question that won voters’ support for medical marijuana, as though Oklahomans are a bunch of dummies.
They voted for him, too.
Again, pick a side.
What he did not do is mention any of the thousands of Oklahomans who needlessly died of COVID on his watch. Not his problem any more.
No shame at all.
The problem, of course, is making Stitt appear a fool, like this, using nothing but the truth and his own words against him, is too easy.
You may have listened to the speech, but did you watch it? Because if you did, you saw the first person in the chamber to applaud Kevin Stitt for each of Kevin Stitt’s applause lines was Kevin Stitt.
Like he was hearing it for the first time, stunned by his real-time genius, blown away he’d come up with it himself and just had to clap.
It’s the kind of stuff that’s great over a beer, good for laughs — That’s our governor? Hilarious — yet bound to be worth nothing when it comes to convincing Oklahomans he no longer deserves the chance to embarrass us any longer.
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Hey, if the Lincoln Project wants to come in and run negative ads on the guy, terrific, but trying to paint him as a caricature of himself, as though he hasn’t become that already, while accusing him of ignoring “the real issues,” sounding like the same old boilerplate that passes for political discourse around here, is bound to go nowhere.
Not long after Stitt finished, Joy Hofmeister, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, who has switched parties hoping to unseat Stitt in the coming general election, issued her “full comments” on the State of the State via Twitter.
In the accompanying press release, she accused Stitt of, among many things, “scrambling to play catch up during an election year,” of only noticing “the needs of Oklahoma kids and families when it’s politically convenient” and of being “a barricade to progress,” by “sowing divisions.”
Out so fast, it’s like it was written beforehand, probably because it was, with the same old tired prose that stands not a chance on earth of changing a mind.
Look, her choice to switch parties is a fabulous move. Having already won statewide office, with fantastic public education credentials, may give her advantages no other candidate can match. And maybe the State-of-the-State-response-press-release game is merely about keeping your name out there, reminding your base and benefactors you’re engaged, while the real campaign is waged later.
If that’s it, great, because if Democrats and every other not-Stitt constituency are to get him out of the governor’s mansion — at least he hasn’t sold corporate naming rights to the house he’s living in just yet — Oklahomans will have to be told a different story, in a different way, that’s consistent, builds on itself and appeals to thoughts so many must already have and have probably felt for the last 11 years out of that office.
One that’s about connection, that sounds more real than political because it’s exactly that, that isn’t slogans and word-play, but more “this is what we’re doing, this is what we could be doing instead; we’ve been fighting for you for a very long time and though we may not have communicated it very well, we’re trying to do a better job and we can’t wait to make you feel like you belong in this state, be even prouder to live in this state and to live a better life in this state.”
That’s the point, right?
Why we’re here?
That, and authenticity’s the best politics, even better when not wrapped in embarrassment and the ridiculous self-congratulations of a governor that can’t wait to give himself a hand.