What a difference a year makes

A tip from a friend today led me to reread Governor Linda Lingle’s April 25, 2008 speech before the Hawaii Economic Association’s Annual Conference. This speech exemplifies everything that’s wrong with the Lingle Administration. When it first came out, I briefly commented on the speech here (third item), but looking back now, it’s clear I didn’t even scratch the surface

The speech begins well enough, with a brief outline of the economic disaster unfolding on the mainland:

“The condition of the U.S. economy is under intense scrutiny. We hear every day of volatile stocks, rising oil prices, increased foreclosures, and continued inflation despite decreased consumer spending.”

But then Lingle begins to veer into very risky territory:
“National and international events obviously have an impact on Hawaii’s economy. The price of gasoline, electricity, and food is heavily affected by events outside our borders. But in many ways economic and fiscal factors here at home are different from what is occurring in mainland states and foreign countries.”
In no time at all, Lingle tells the assembled business-people pretty much exactly what they wanted to hear at that time: Hawaii’s economy is fine despite the firestorm blowing everywhere else, and everyone should just stop listening to the always-negative media because it’s all their fault:

“The differences are often blurred because of the media’s tendency to highlight negative stories, and then to repeat them like a drum-beat throughout the 24-hour news cycle via a wide variety of information sources, including the Internet. People locally continue to hear these reports and commentaries about how bad the economy is and how it keeps getting worse… but the fact is that many of these stories simply don’t apply to Hawaii.”

Just in case anyone hadn’t caught the subtlety of her position, Lingle (whose own degree in journalism apparently gives her special credibility here) went on to make the point explicity:
This abundance of negative stories about the mainland and world economies is precisely why I believe an objective perspective on our specific situation is so important – we must ensure that our residents’ attitudes are based on a complete and accurate picture of our state’s economy.”
Lingle went on to paint that “objective” picture in stark terms:
• The recent shutdowns of Molokai Ranch, ATA and Aloha Airlines (all in a single 10-day period) “were not connected to the status of Hawaii’s overall economy or based on weak fundamentals.”
• “Our state’s economic growth has slowed, but it has not stopped.”
• and finally, “our state will not slip into a recession.”
That was a year ago. Subsequent events have shown that Lingle either had no idea what she was talking about or just plain mislead us for whatever reason. For proof of the utter bankruptcy of her April 25, 2008 speech (and quite possibly her entire approach to governing), we need look no further than Governor Linda Lingle’s official webpage:

“Hawai`i is facing a challenging period, with many unprecedented events converging to create an economic, financial, and fiscal environment that threatens the very foundation of our national economy… The adverse impact of these external events on Hawai`i has been felt in many sectors.”

And so on, and so on… I can hardly wait until Lingle runs for U.S. Senator.

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