Good Riddance To 2011 Politics

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - December 27, 2011

The ghosts of new years past can haunt us every bit as much of those of Christmases past. Consider those of 2011:

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s New Day for Hawaii, for example. We watched a temperate, ever-listening, almost avuncular Abercrombie talk New Day throughout the 2010 campaign. Its language and his deportment won him overwhelming victories in both primary and general elections.

But come the New Year 2011, Neil’s New Day looked like the old days brought to us by the Great Recession of 2007. No money in the coffers, looming deficits and skittish legislators spelled reality for governors of both parties from coast to coast and into the Pacific.

Abercrombie had to say “no” to his longtime union friends and didn’t seem to know what to say to his fellow Democrats in the Legislature. When he did speak, he too often reverted to pre-campaign form eminently quotable but not always politic. The Ghost of New Day? It’s still with us, still mostly apparition.

Then there’s the Ghost of It’s All About Me not my children, not my grandchildren, but me. The governor talked throughout the legislative session about our all being in the same canoe. He went on to suggest that old folks should have their retirement incomes taxed by the state in order to avoid a billion-dollar deficit. Both state House and Senate concurred, if at lesser tax rates.

Splash after splash echoed through the state as we geezers leaped over the gunwales. The local AARP chapter went on the offensive, arguing that we gray beards had earned our retirement incomes and we would all be on the street if they were taxed a penny by the state. Needless to say, the measure never made it to the governor’s desk.

Ghosts of Campaigns Past appeared as well. Ed Case announced first: He would be a candidate for U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Danny Akaka. Then came U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono; so too would she. The third in line? Former Gov. Linda Lingle. Voila! We have the Ghosts of Gubernatorial campaign 2002: Hirono vs. Case in the Democratic primary, the winner to face Lingle in the general election. Little has changed save the age of the principals and that of the weary voters.

Another Ghost of Campaigns Past stepped forward in 2011: Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a congressional candidate in 1986 and 1990, announced himself a congressional candidate yet again in 2012. In his initial run, Hannemann lost to a Japanese-American woman in congressional district 1, Republican Pat Saiki. In 1990, he suffered another loss, this time to a Japanese-American woman in CD 2, Democrat Patsy Mink. In 2012 no Japanese-American woman of either party appears interested in going to congress from CD 2; things look good for an apparition to become a congressional seat for the former mayor.

Finally, the Ghost of APEC seemed with us throughout 2011. Honolulu hosted the clumsily titled Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation somethingor-other in November. We were promised that APEC’s delegations would fill our hotel rooms with 20,000 attendees and that 2,000 news outlets would advertise Hawaii to the world. We talked endlessly of APEC, whatever it was.

So how did it turn out? Hard to say. We know that 20,000 APEC visitors never showed, nor did 2,000 reporters. Paralyzing traffic jams did.

We also know that APEC returns to one of its member countries only once every 20 years. At least we’ve banished that ghost.

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