Debra J. Saunders

Then, when it comes to the state budget, the governor doesn't take responsibility. On Tuesday, Davis blamed the national recession for the $38 billion shortfall. But as former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, later reached by telephone, noted, "People knew that the budget that was enacted last year was a sham, and the other shoe would fall this year." Since a governor can use his line-item veto power and can refuse to sign a bad budget, Davis is to blame.

When will there be a budget? Again, Davis is no take-charge guy.

"My proposal's been on the table since May 15. Everybody has had their day in court to present their budget, so there should be no more excuses. I said this afternoon, 'You should drop everything else, put all business aside except the budget.'"

Then to show how hard he was working, Davis mentioned that Wednesday he would attend his 27th "Big Five" meeting. (The Big Five consists of the governor and Democratic and Republican leaders of both houses.)

Meeting is good: Give the man five points. But meeting is not producing results. As former Wilson aide Bill Whalen observed: "I just don't know how many legislators take him seriously. They just don't fear him."

No lie. Expecting legislators to pass a budget because he said so is equivalent to parents expecting their babies to diaper themselves.

"He ought to make his case to the public for what he's doing," Wilson noted, "just as I did when we wanted to cut the car tax."

Instead, Davis continues to govern at an arm's length. There should be a little voice in his head telling him to break eggs and make the omelet. But he's listening to the voice that says: Smear your opponent. It worked before.

Debra J. Saunders

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