Governor has no excuse for reckless driver

Ned Cantwell

This Washington Post guy hung around with Gov. Bill Richardson for a week and wrote about it.
It is not surprising that a reporter from one of the nation’s premiere dailies would want to spend a week with Bill. Everyone does. He is a national media darling. Tom Brokaw likes Bill. Wolf Blitzer likes Bill. Even Bill O’Reilly likes Bill, which is a stunner since O’Reilly doesn’t like hardly anyone.
The national media will slobber all over Bill until he really decides to make a serious run for the White House, then they’ll pick him apart like a hawk devouring road kill on U.S. 285 outside Vaughn. Because, by golly, that’s how we folks in the news biz do it.
The Washington Post guy wrote a pretty good story, which in itself is not a surprise because you’ve got to be a word merchant wizard to land a writing job with that newspaper. That is in contrast to many, many of us who began plying our trade on a small, rural paper and worked our way up to a small, rural paper.
You read the Washington Post story and you come away realizing Bill Richardson works 18 hours a day and loves every minute of it. You read the Washington Post story, and you know that Bill Richardson is a man in a hurry.
And therein lies the problem. (Actually, that maybe should read, “therein lays the problem.” Frankly, I don’t know, which is just one of the reasons the Washington Post has not come calling.)
The problem is the story described the governor’s wild chase between appointments, his driver speeding at 110 mph along Albuquerque surface roads and freeways, with Bill sitting demurely in the back seat screaming stuff like, “Get this SOB moving.”
What was going on is that all of the Democratic presidential candidates were in town and our governor was racing to this reception and that luncheon and this photo op.
This resulted in lots of outraged letters to the editor, including one lady who said she saw the governor speed through an intersection and “assumed there was some sort of emergency.”
Well, there was. When you definitely have no interest whatsoever in the White House and you have all these guys who might be president stalking voters in your state, you need to contact each one of them, personally, look him in the eye, and say unequivocally, “Don’t even think about me as your running mate.”
Even Ralph Nadar jumped all over the governor for causing safety concerns and disregarding public safety.
Billy Sparks is the governor’s press guy and it was up to him to handle the negative fallout from the Washington Post story. Poor Billy. Richardson strategists decided to tell the public the governor was topping 100 mph because of security concerns, that if he got stuck in traffic he was a “sitting duck.”
Oh, boy, that’s a stretch. As good ideas go, that one makes as much sense as hiring Rush Limbaugh as your play-by-play announcer.

Ned Cantwell of Ruidoso is a retired newspaper publisher and member of the New Mexico Press Association Hall of Fame.