By Ned Cantwell
The Bill is in for a fight this time. He might as well try to pry raw steak from a rabid dog’s mouth.
Bill Richardson is the best politician we’ve seen in New Mexico. Smooth as a Dairy Queen frosty and just about as cool.
Some call him Rapid Bill, that moniker clipped to his nameplate when he raced at speeds over 100 mph between political receptions being held in Albuquerque for Democratic presidential candidates.
It was important for the New Mexico governor to show up promptly so that he could tell gathered media folks there is no truth at all to the rumor he might take the vice president slot on someone’s ticket.
Rapid Bill is emphatic. Would be consider being Howard Dean’s running mate? No. No. No. Definitely, no. In political speak, that means “maybe.” I mean, he doesn’t want to, but if “the people insist,” what’s a guy to do?
Some call him Big Bill. That could stem from a picture I saw where they were trying to strap the governor into a helicopter seat. It wasn’t going well. His South Beach diet must include generous helpings of meat enchiladas. I’d recommend the Atkins diet to our governor, but my Lubbock cardiologist suggests the late Dr. Robert Atkins will kill more Jews than Hitler. Bill’s not Jewish, of course, but you get the point.
I call him The Bill. The Bill, because, so far, he has been bigger than life. Look, here is a guy the Albuquerque Journal, in its flowery year-end review of the chief executive, called him “The Man of Enchantment.”
Wow. The Man of Enchantment in the Land of Enchantment. It doesn’t get much better. The bouquets pile up.
On the excellent Web site run by political operative Joe Monahan is this quote: “…. we are watching a politician of major proportion reach full political maturity. New Mexico seems barely big enough to contain him. It’s like his personal clubhouse.”
The Bill has done it all. He runs the political base paths with virtual impunity. And, guess what? He’s about to get tagged out. If he stubbed his toe by calling a special session that was a dud, he’s about to sprain his ankle in an attempt to wrest from legislators control of the public works money.
What The Bill wants is for his office to decide how to spend the money now divided up by ravenous legislators in a session-ending circus called the Christmas Tree Bill where everyone gets something.
I’ll trade you a senior citizens center for two food pantry vans and a skateboard recreation complex. This spending grab bag gets so crazy in the closing hours you have guys taking home little league parks to town that don’t have little leagues. Well, not that bad, but you get my drift.
The Bill thinks this is an irresponsible way to distribute money and he thinks if he had more control of the funds there would be more accountability and project qualification standards.
The governor may be right. But taking this pork from legislators, all of whom are up for re-election this year? He might as well try to take the championship trophy from one of those 300 pound tackles at LSU.
Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. He is on a See Food diet. Contact him at: