Gov. Snyder’s been on the receiving end of a much-deserved blistering critique in the media over the past few days — given his ongoing epic public policy gaffes, neatly coupled with the continued failure in his campaign strategy — both served as easy candy in an enticingly hittable editorial page piñata party.
The Detroit Free Press excoriated his bungled handling of the troublesome Aramark prison food contract. Leading with the word “Disgusting” — the editorial board wasn’t talking about the maggot-riddled slop for food or the sex acts in the kitchens, they instead referred to the oversight (or lack there of) in the privatization disaster. Freep called Aramark the “poster child for failure”, and elaborated with this:
Too often, privatization is an ideological darling, waltzed into budget negotiations predicated on the idea that government is inherently inefficient and burdened by bureaucracy. But free-market lust is dangerously dismissive of the very purpose of some government services — like prisons, for instance — whose operations require attention to social and cultural imperatives that don’t show up in a balance sheet.
Next up was columnist Tim Skubick, who likened the Aramark scandal to a Chinese water torture, with one administrative blunder after another — just anticipating the next drip.
And then there was this from Nolan Finley, editor of the Detroit News, speaking on MiWeek last week about the governor’s staggeringly incompetent campaign missteps:
[H]e’s allowed Mark Schauer to paint the impressions of him, to define him.The governor’s response to the Schauer attack ads have been weak. His entire campaign has been sort of disjointed, not aggressive enough, not strong enough…His campaign ads have been as bad as any I’ve ever seen. This race should not be this close.
Finley also referred to the governor as “dull as a valiumed-up dental patient.” Ouch! That’s a pretty sound condemnation coming from a traditionally conservative source.
Susan Demas didn’t mince any words either in her recent commentary. In fact, her’s was the most damning, calling Snyder “One Smug Nerd” for his refusal to debate and his disengaged campaign style:
And Snyder is not exactly a man of the people. He’s most comfortable lecturing folks from afar like the former CEO he is.
Schauer may not have the folksy charm of George W. Bush, but he can comfortably don the plaid shirt for the parade circuit. He revels in going door-to-door and talking with people.
While poking commentary fun at Snyder’s foibles and follies is a pleasure in and of itself, Nolan Finley made a more salient point — many of these gaffes are the result of a poorly run campaign. Enter the misguided defense of why Snyder will be conducting scripted town hall meetings with hand-picked audiences instead of debates. Kyle Robertson, the governor’s inept campaign manager, went on the record with this lame excuse, questioning Schauer’s smarts:
“Mark Schauer lacks the intelligence to keep up with him in a format like a town hall.”
A statement like that brings into question the mental capacity of Robertson himself, not to mention the bubble-boy strategy he’s mapped-out for his candidate.
First, if the claim were true, then Team Snyder would be all-in for as many candidate on candidate extemporaneous encounters they could possibly squeeze-in between now and November. Second, them’s fightin’ words — creating an open challenge for the media, and Schauer, to capitalize on by demanding debates as proof. Robertson’s amateur comment handed his boss a lose-lose conundrum, when all he had to do was just keep his mouth shut. Campaign managers should neither be seen nor heard.
Aficionados of the television show West Wing will recall the episode when incumbent candidate Jed Bartlett accidentally/purposely called his challenger dumb while on a hot mic, saying “He has a .22 caliber mind in a .357 magnum world.” Of course, the genius that is Aaron Sorkin understood that his fictional candidate would have to prove it — and that’s just what he did when he smartly swept the floor with his opponent in a debate.
Snyder simply isn’t that clever, and neither is the brain trust of his crash-and-burn campaign.
Update: Snyder has agreed to one town hall style debate in front of independent and undecided voters on Oct. 12th.