Lingle: ‘Make Nice’ With Obama

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - December 10, 2008

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven,” sayeth the Good Book. “A time to live, and a time to die,” sayeth a good song.

And any post-election period is a time “to make nice.”

George W. and Laura Bush “made nice” by inviting President-elect Barack Obama and wife Michelle to the White House for a talk-and-tour.

Sen. John McCain “made nice” by sitting down with Obama after their bruising general election campaign to discuss how much the good senator looked forward to working with the new president over the next four years.

Even Sen. Hillary Clinton “made nice” to Obama by campaigning for the man who vanquished her in the Democratic primaries and agreeing to serve as his Secretary of State.

But somehow or another, Gov. Linda Lingle - after her unfortunate remarks about Obama during the campaign - didn’t see the need to “make nice” by joining Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and 38 or 39 other state governors to meet with Obama last week.

Lingle said that she’d lose three days on the trip to Philadelphia: three important days of meetings with cabinet officials on how to deal with Hawaii’s sagging economy.


Those are undoubtedly important meetings. But then again, in terms of dealing with Hawaii’s sagging economy, perhaps attending a meeting called by the president-elect might also benefit Hawaii’s economy. After all, Obama and his advisers are planning to submit a huge economic stimulus package to Congress.

How huge?

Obama is talking between $500 billion to $700 billion. Shall I repeat that? $500 billion to $700 billion. That’s a lot of dollars - some of which you’d think Gov. Lingle, a “making nice” Gov. Lingle, might want to garner to stimulate Hawaii’s economy.

During the campaign, Lingle spent far more than three days away from the office and the concerns of Hawaii’s sagging economy. Try three weeks or so touring the country campaigning in behalf of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

In the course of that campaign, Lingle famously questioned Obama’s claim to Hawaii as his home state - though there’s a birth certificate, school records, Punahou yearbook pictures, frequently visited Hawaii relatives and schoolmate reminiscences ad nauseum.

Whole books have been written - or are in the process of being written - about Obama’s ties to the Aloha State.

And there’s the obvious belief on the part of Hawaii’s voters - even if seen as delusional in the governor’s partisan eyes - that Obama is keiki o ka aina. Last February, 35,000 voters swamped the Democratic caucuses, the vast majority of whom supported their local hero.

On Nov. 4, those same delusional Hawaii voters gave native son Obama 325,871 votes - 71.5 percent of the total presidential vote cast. No state matched that margin; only the District of Columbia did better for Obama.

So you’d think, in the interest of her state, Lingle would have attended the governors’ meeting.

You’d think that, given the obvious high esteem in which her constituents hold the new president, Lingle would have harkened to his request that she show up for the Philadelphia conclave.

So why didn’t she?

Pique? I hope not. Embarrassment? Come on. Pride? That goeth before a fall, that same Good Book sayeth.

Last week a reporter asked me if I thought her refusal of Obama’s invitation demonstrated that Lingle was indicating she would not run for another office in 2010.

I don’t think so, but it does show an insensitivity to both the feelings of her constituents and the best interests of the state she leads that could make her winning another office in 2010 more difficult.

“Making nice” is good manners.

Good politics, too.

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