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October 19, 2009


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Good editorial, Jack. Even though I'm a liberal Democrat, I always admired Republican Governor Milliken's moderate, balanced temperment and his commitment to good government and the politics of the middle. The 'middle',we might remember, is the non-glitzy place where leaders with common sense go to get things done.
Ron F. Rowley

It's nice to breathe a breath of good Michigan government, if only as a memory.

This Jack Lessenberry's umpteenth tribute to Bill Milliken. And it is clear why Milliken gets special favored treatment from Jack Lessenberry. It is because Bill and Helen Milliken are, in fact, ex-Republicans.

Set aside, for a moment, specific policy debates. Though it would have been hard, in the early days of Governor Jim Blanchard, to find a Michigan Democrat who had anything nice to say about Bill Milliken. They were too busy at that time complaining (rightly, to a great extent) about the horrendous budgetary debt that Milliken left behind when he left office.

But with the passage of time, first came Helen Milliken's warring with the GOP over abortion policy. Then, slowly, Bill Milliken became less and less important to, and involved in, the Republican Party in Michigan. It is hard to think of a single Republican fundraiser, party convention, strategy meeting, etc., in which Bill Milliken has been involved, in teh past ten years. Maybe 15 or 20 years.

Bill Milliken is now that perfect creature in the Lessenberry Political Cosmology; the angry expatriot Republican. Of course, the sensible thing for Milliken to do would be to become a Democrat. And join forces with the other pro-tax, pro-spending, bigger-government politicians in Michigan. But if Milliken did that, his schtick-as-Recovering-Republican would be over. The current Milliken Show depends entirely on his status as "Former Governor of Michigan and Frequent Critic of His Own Party." A good question for someone to put to Milliken whenever he gives anybody a chance to ask one, would be, "Why don't you just change your party affiliation? You endorsed Democrats in the last several Presidential elections; you endorsed Democrats in numerous state elections; you complain about Republican initiatives all the time? Why not just align yourself with the party whose candidates you keep choosing?"

Perhaps it is because Milliken finds personally distasteful much of what also goes along with Democrat politics in Michigan -- the union bosses, the trial lawyers, etc. -- but if that were really the case, you'd think he might have a harder time endorsing all of those Democrats for state and national office, since those groups are the core constituencies of the Democrats.

If I were to select something to name for Bill Milliken, I think it might be a passing cloudbank, or some fall leaves turning color and falling, because Bill Milliken is without a doubt the "most unrealistic Michigan governor of our time." (Jennifer Granholm was disqualified from that honor by virtue of her having recently been named the recipient of the "least effective Michigan governor of our time.")

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor sounds good to me. Delighted this isn't a posthumous honor and happy there are still living examples of responsible leadership here.

Ridiculously short-sighted, unrealistic and destructive to see conservation as a partisan issue.

Anonymous is the GOP's Kanye West. Next up, why you shouldn't like Ike, and throwing Lincoln under the bus.

To Mr. Anonymous:
Such sour grapes and bitterness! Lighten up man (or woman).

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