by Jeff Woods
While most objective observers see Haslam kowtowing to the right wing of his party, dodging difficult decisions and stepping to the front only for easy-to-pass little initiatives, Politico marvels at his many accomplishments. Seriously?
Since his election in 2010, Haslam has overhauled the Tennessee civil service, stripped back teacher tenure, cut taxes, enacted tort reform and expanded charter schools. Add up the various items on his agenda, and it looks a lot like a version of the pro-growth platform Washington Republicans have been grasping for.
Haslam has done all that during his first term without triggering the kind of large-scale backlash that other aggressive Republican governors have encountered. There aren’t tens of thousands of protesters, or even one irate MSNBC host, camped outside Haslam’s window.
That's probably because Democrats have essentially abandoned the state, and no one is left to mount much opposition. Considering that his party reigns supreme in state government, Haslam is underachieving from a GOP point of view. Those tax cuts are so minuscule no one's even noticed they happened.
In this article, which his flacks probably sold their first-born children to make happen, Haslam coolly plays the part of the reluctant leader. Greatness has been thrust upon him. No, he's not interested in national office. In fact, according to Politico, once he's done as governor, he's hitting the Barcalounger. We can hope.
“If there’s a place I can help, I would be glad to. I think you see Republicans now, whether it be a Bobby Jindal or — you can come up with a list of folks — who are saying we need to do a better job of defining our brand,” Haslam said. “We haven’t done a very good job of saying what we’re for and what we think the conservative brand means out there today.”
He added, apparently as an afterthought: “I do think it helps to have been a governor and to say, here’s a place where we can show we’ve done that.”