After weeks of talking tough about how they were too fiscally responsible to take stimulus money from the federal government, the cast of 2012 GOP governor-wannabes, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford, folded like cheap tents:
But what began with a bang is ending with something closer to a whimper. All three of those governors have been forced to scale back their expectations, to varying degree, as the push of conservative philosophy gave way to the pull of political reality.
All three found that praise from the conservative movement in Washington meant nothing to furious state legislators of both parties. And in the end, along with other conservative Republican governors, the three submitted letters in recent days asking to be eligible for federal funds, a spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget confirmed.
Apparently they weren't willing to deal with the blowback from state legislators who were more interested in helping their constituents than furthering the political ambitions of their governors.
But in accepting the money, each one displayed their own brand of weaselhood.
Mark Sanford of South Carolina is still insisting he won't take $700 million, primarily for education, despite the threat of massive teacher layoffs. Instead he made a television ad, paid for by Carolinians for Reform, to defend his decision. A little backstory on the group:
Sanford's past business ties to a nonprofit organization that received $100,000 from a governor's conference bank account has lawmakers considering changes to disclosure laws and the state's competitive grants program. While no one has accused Sanford of anything illegal, some state lawmakers question his decision to donate the conference money to Carolinians for Reform Inc. given his ties to the organization. Among the group's directors is a former officer in a business owned by the governor's brother, and two men who ran a political action committee that supported Sanford.
And Bobby "Volcano" Jindal? While refusing $9.5 million in money for health care:
... he plans to request federal funds for a New Orleans-to-Baton Rouge passenger rail service from the same pot of railroad money he denounced as a vehicle for "wasteful spending."
And Palin's principled stand lasted about as long as lipstick on a pig:
... She opened the battle March 19 by saying her state would "not request" some 31 percent of federal funds. Facing an uproar from legislators, her lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, assured the media the next day that Palin wasn’t "rejecting" the money, just seeking a public debate on spending. And Palin herself then weighed in, saying the money was still "on the table."
Palin has since pledged to work out differences with her Legislature, and her spokeswoman would only forward a copy of her March 31 certification letter.
Of course there is a bright side to all of the political grandstanding and posturing:
... Democrats have relished the intra-party GOP warfare.
And who doesn't like a good chicken fight?