The Erskinny Perplex

February01/ 2012

Thursday, on the matter of running for Governor; Erskine Bowles said “Nope, I’d druther not. But thanks for thinking of me.” Reaction to that news was likely determined by how much one really knows about Erskine Bowles. This right-wing fanatic took the news with decidedly mixed feelings. Erskine Bowles could have been THE BEST Governor North Carolina has ever had. Not just THE BEST Governor of recent memory. When that competition is Hunt, Easley, and Dumplin’; “best” could be defined as “he woulda had far fewer scandals than they did”.

….or, in the specific case of Dumplin, “He is brighter than a votive candle and can operate a toaster.”

I’m saying Erskine Bowles could have been The Real Deal – An Awesome Administrator who could have truly built a consensus from the Gordian Granny Knot that is The NC General Assembly.

You don’t like Erskine Bowles ? Let me guess that is because of one or more of several high-profile elements. If I only knew the media sound bites of those elements I would agree with you. Three of those elements are:

He was Clinton’s Butt-boy
The Mary Easley Scandal
The UNC Football Mess

Time and space do not allow for a full disclosure of Bowles’ involvement in each of those high-profile “glorious messes”. Your humble right-wing provocateur is privileged to know “the real story” in each case. In each case they were messes not of his creation but dumped on his plate by virtue of his position.

From that privileged knowledge I know the options that Bowles had in real time and the rationale used in his decision-making in real time. In retrospect, he would have exercised other options. “Retrospect” is not an option for “real leaders”. Ask Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman or the coach of your favorite sports team.

In our highly partisan world, we hold our leaders to a zero mistake standard. Good luck finding any human who can meet that standard. Without a full disclosure of “the real story”, Erskine Bowles will bear public criticism of those messes with him to his grave. A grim reality of “leadership”. Think what you will, because that is what you will think. ….. sigh.

The Erskine Bowles I know is “an old-school Democrat”; NOT a goggle-eyed screeching liberal loon. Big difference. My father and both my grandfathers were “old-school Democrats”. My mother was a yellow-dog Democrat. I am a Conservative ABO (aka “a right-wing fanatic”). Discuss the highly partisan economic or social issues of the day with Bowles and you are blown away with his astute common-sense analysis of these complex matters.

Ask anyone who knows Bowles from any point in his 66 years and you will get some version of “he’s the smartest guy in the room…. pick any room.” He is NOT the effete intellectual snoot so typical of the Left. Erskine Bowles is “common-sense smart”.

OK, in keeping with Bullmoose’s reputation for zinging one-liners…. Erskine and Mitt Romney both qualify as 1%ers to use a derogatory class warfare epithet currently in vogue. Mitt on camera is a matinee-idol. Erskine on camera is the love-child of Napoleon Dynamite and Tweety Bird. To a superficial public easily dazzled by “bright shiny objects”, the camera is not Erskine’s friend. Of course “the camera” is not 95% of America’s friend either. Visited your local mall lately?

There is no better proof of Erskine Bowles’ integrity, character and rock-solid common-sense than that two Democratic presidents totally lacking in all three areas have sought to hide behind him. Clinton sought him to clean up the disaster of his Lewinsky-stained White House. Obama used him as a shield to disguise his dismantling of the US economy. In both cases Bowles felt he could make a positive difference in the respective messes. If not him, then who?

I am not privy to exactly why Erskine Bowles turned down his party’s desperate plea that he run for Governor. I suspect he has finally accepted that:

….modern-day politics “chews up and spits out good men”. That is a very sad realization that should cause us all to blink.

Most folks who follow political headlines and sound bites, define “honest politician” as “the ones I voted for”. The logic being “I am a shrewd discerner of rascals and scoundrels and am pretty sure that the ones I voted for are neither, at least I hope not….”. That simple logic has you using your birthdate as your PIN # and thinking no identity thief will ever guess that.

I know enough current and former politicians to say that there are indeed

Some that would qualify as Eagle Scouts.
Some that should be exiled to a penal colony in Antarctica. And
A whole bunch of “mediocres” employing “situational ethics” in every decision as do the great unwashed that vote them into office.
Erskine Bowles is an Eagle Scout. Pat McCrory is now definitely The Best of the field and hopefully will prove to be an exceptional Governor. I am not saying I would have broken ranks and voted for Bowles. But had he won, I would have looked forward to him doing a very fine job.

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