Before Chet “The Big Lug” Culver,
there was Tom “I never, ever look as though I’m enjoying myself” Vilsack.
And before that, Terry “The Caretaker” Branstad.
Before I go on, let me say that I speak only for myself, not Little Village Magazines, it’s overlords, minions, or lackeys.
Terry Brandstad was Lieutenant Governor during the term of Robert Ray, a man universally admired, even by liberal Democrats. Ray would probably still be in office if he hadn’t decided there was more to life than being Governor of Iowa. He balanced the budget, he got along with Democrats, and I never heard anyone complain about him. He had kind eyes and a winning smile. Vilsack had a reputation as an operator, who did a good job administering the government and working with the legislature, even if he was about as much fun as an overdue library book. Culver did OK considering he was elected just before the economy went to hell. His re-election campaign was uninspiring but he was clearly a decent guy trying to do a good job.
By contrast, Branstad is a schlub. He was, and is, a slow-talking man so free of personality that I can remember nothing he did as Governor the first time around. The only thing anyone could think of to write about his time as Governor on Wikipedia was that he blew off binding arbitration in negotiations with the state workers’ Union AFSCME. AFSCME took him to court, and Branstad lost. Now there’s a lasting legacy.
What I remember of the sixteen long years of the first Branstad administration is wishing I’d never have to see that bland, self-satisfied blancmange of a face, or hear that mealy-mouthed, reedy monotone again. And that fussy little wannabe porn ‘stache he wears? Sweet Jebus, kill me now.
Comes now Governor Elect Branstad, and he hasn’t improved with age. Now he has opinions, like this one:
‘Speaking Monday at a gathering organized by The Associated Press, Branstad says he expects the Republican-control House to approve the referral of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to voters. But Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal vows to block action on the referral, which he says would enshrine discrimination in the state constitution
‘Branstad says the issue hurt Democrats in last month’s election, and he was clearly referring to Gronstal when he stated that “just because you’re a leader in the Legislature doesn’t mean you’re a dictator.”‘
Gronstal totally pwned Brandstad in his response: “”Dictators are people who take away other people’s rights, I’m not going down that road.”
Now honestly, it would take a white board and four colors of dry erase markers to diagram everything that’s stupid, bigoted, offensive and venal about Branstad’s opinion. I’ll spare you my Glen Beck-esque circles and arrows pedantry. Just be warned, you’re in for four years of dumb crap like this. Except I predict such ignorant outbursts will actually be rare, as his normal state is a sort of moist, incurious passivity. The occasional blurts of wrongheaded conservative claptrap will be too few raisins in too much oatmeal.
Except that ain’t oatmeal, and those ain’t raisins.
The horror! The horror!