Pass the Legacy Polish
subtext to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's speech on Mackinac Island the other
It was one part history lesson, two parts of "Here is what I was
stuck with" and a dash of "Please don't blame me for this economic
challenge I am handing off to the next governor while I drink a
margarita on the beach somewhere." Of course she didn't say that but
the message was neatly tucked between the lines.
It was another sterling performance as the governor strolled back in
forth on the stage between two screens that she used to chronicle her
eight frustrating years in office.
"It would have been fun to be governor in the 90's," she joked and
the audience of business tycoons and hangers-on got it. Times were
better than and it seemed as if she took the oath of office one minute
and the economy went to hell the next in 2003 and beyond.
The most telling slide she used was a 1961 Time magazine piece on
the economic woes and the political infighting in Michigan to turn the
"Sound familiar?" the current Chief Executive asked as the
audience looked at the picture of then Gov. Soapy Williams trying to
make ends met.
Some in the audience were shocked to discover that diversifying
Michigan's auto industry dominated economy has been going on for over
forty years. Every time a governor got close to doing it, the economy
would bounce back and the need would temporarily evaporate only to
re-emerge during the next downturn.
Governors Milliken didn't get it done; neither did Blanchard, nor
Engler and as she prepares to head for that drink on the beach, Gov.
Granholm has failed as well. She contends however that the "seeds" to
diversify the economy have been planted as she hands off the sprinkling
can to the next guy.
And when she talked about the need to bring in international jobs
to help in that long-delayed movement away from autos, it rang hollow
Yes, she visited dozens of foreign lands and brought back 19,000
jobs. But, and she did not tell the audience this, in eight years she
never made a sojourn to China to either brings jobs back or help
companies expand there in order to stay afloat back here.
So she give it the ole college try to polish her legacy with her
speech, but that will stand out as one glaring omission.