* Eric Zorn…
Rauner pointed to some small-bore achievements during his farewell appearance Thursday before the Tribune Editorial Board — improvements in the criminal justice system and funding help for charter and private schools — but he didn’t come close to backing up his parting boast, “I’ll put our track record of accomplishment up against any governor in the U.S. in the last four years. And I will especially love to put it up against any governor who had an opposing legislature dominated by a supermajority and then a majority from the other party.”
I couldn’t help but think of the actual track record of accomplishment he might have had if he hadn’t chosen to relentlessly accuse Democratic legislative leaders of being crooked and corrupt when he needed their respect and cooperation to begin to advance his agenda.
I couldn’t help but think of the incremental but meaningful compromise advances for businesses and taxpayers Rauner might have pushed through had he understood that his narrow victory over unpopular Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn in 2014 gave him a bully pulpit and an opportunity, not a crown.
I couldn’t help but think of the appeal Rauner could have made to voters last fall — “I’m a moderating, common-sense voice of reason and a check on Democratic power” — if he hadn’t stubbornly, recklessly refused to negotiate a state budget unless the General Assembly knuckled under to his anti-union demands.
I don’t disagree, but Rauner is who he is, and that’s not who he portrayed himself to be in 2014. He ran as a businessman technocrat who would shake up Springfield and fix the state’s many problems. But that was just an act, a ploy to win the election. Rauner basically admitted as much during a recent press conference…
That said, if you’re gonna be a moderate to win elections, but you’re not going to be a reformer and fix the problems, what’s the point of winning?… If you’re gonna moderate to win and then do the same thing that the guy or gal that you were running against would do, what’s the point?
He was talking about Jim Edgar there. Rauner presumed that, like himself, the former governor campaigned as a “moderate” merely to win. But Edgar was usually just what he said he was (even though he did adopt Dawn Clark Netsch’s property tax swap after blasting her for it). Rauner was a “my way or the highway” anti-union zealot who campaigned as a moderate in order to win.
To this very day, Rauner claims he’s pro-union. It’s a completely laughable claim after a two-year impasse almost purely caused by his demand that the Democrats help him achieve his life goals of destroying most union powers and obliterating most collective bargaining rights for union members, but that’s just his “moderate” messaging kicking in and he’ll stick with it forever.