Lingle Makes Major Mistakes

January 13, 2009, 10:39 AM HST
* Updated January 13, 3:37 PM
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For the longest time, I was convinced that Linda Lingle was a slam dunk to eventually make a successful run for the US Senate whenever one of the two aging Dans – Inouye and Akaka — retired.

Although Hawaii is definitely a Democratic state, Lingle has repeatedly shown she could attract votes although she is a Republican.  She did it on Maui in winning two mayoral terms and she did it at the state level by first pushing Ben Cayetano in a historically close race and later twice winning gubernatorial elections.

I no longer believe Lingle is a slam dunk for future office.  Not after throwing up three air balls as a result of dreadfully stubborn decisions that will cost her dearly at the polls.

Lingle’s heavy-handed reaction to those who questioned her handling of the Supperferry will not be forgotten.   Nor will Hawaii residents overlook her bad-mouthing of the Aloha State’s favorite political son by questioning Barrack Obama’s Hawaii credentials while campaigning in Colorado and Nevada on behalfof the unsuccessful Republican presidential ticket.

Barrack Obama was born here, he was raised here, he graduated from high school here, his sister lives here, and his grandparents are buried here.  Lingle can claim none of those first three items on her “local” resume.

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It was one thing to question Obama’s policies.  It was quite another to question his “local” credentials, especially when an overwhelming number of Hawaii residents felt such pride in his candidacy and his subsequent victory.

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The most recent stumble by Lingle came when she declined an invitation to attend a recent meeting of the National Governors Association featuring the president-elect and focusing on the current economic crisis because, according to her people, Lingle could not rearrange her schedule at such a late date.

Her busy schedule that week included a pair of appearances on local radio talk shows hosted by conservative commentators, the opening of a high-tech event for students and a meeting with the ambassador of Austria.  I don’t think it would be unreasonable for Lt. Governor Duke Aiona to have filled in for those events while Lingle traveled to Philadelphia.

Lingle’s apologists noted that 10 of the 50 governors skipped the meeting.  But none of those other governors is from Hawaii, a fact not lost on local folks.  Ironically, even Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom Lingle introduced at the GOP national convention, was in attendance.

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It was the legendary Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who made the comment:  All politics are local.

Gov. Lingle apparently forgot that political truth.  She forgot that regarding the Superferry.  She forgot that by questioning Obama’s Hawaii ties.  And she forgot that by snubbing his invitation to join the nation’s other governors in Philadelphia.

But it’s something the people of Hawaii are not likely to forget when Linda Lingle begins seeking their votes in her inevitable future pursuit of a seat in the U.S. Senate.

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