Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman thinks Gov. Butch Otter has lost his bite. The one-time anti-goverment political reformer has lost his nerve. What Popkey seems to forget is that Otter is using a tried and true strategy that has a deep tradition in the Idaho Republican party.
The first step is to get elected and the quickest way to get elected in Idaho is to claim you will “take a bite out of government”. Symms, Hansen, Chenowith, Craig, Kempthorne, Sali, Crapo and Risch jump immediately to mind, but the list goes on.
Of course, once elected most of them have absolutely no political power and can continue their anti-govenment rant with no practical effect. Just look at the list above and ask yourself what legislation any of them passed that had a positive effect on Idaho or the Nation.
Butch Otter practiced that exact same strategy as a Congressman (at both the state and national level)- lots of anti-government, libertarian wind, but no power and no legislation to show for it.
The problem is that once one of these windbags actually is put into a position of power they are forced to confront the fact that they have to govern. The draconian measures they spouted from the sidelines are, of course, not really possible.
Does that mean that Otter has become a moderate? Hardly. The current economic crisis is his perfect excuse to start to dismantle those aspects of government that provide essential support for the average Idahoan while keeping intact all of the advantages handed out to corporations, the wealthy and those other special interests that fill the coffers of the Republican party. He and his political cronies will practice that time honored method- death by a thousand cuts as they dismantle public education, health and welfare and public television.
The giveaway to Popkey’s article is that he quotes two of the most pathetic mouthpieces of the loony libertarian right, Darrel Deide and Wayne Hoffman. They both feel Otter missed an opportunity to slash, burn and completely gut state government. So compared to those two, Otter is an incrementalist.