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Gilmore's crimes against Virginia still being tallied

February 21, 2002 1:35 am

ONCE THE U.N. war-crimes
tribunal completes its case
against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, maybe it should take on former Gov. Jim Gilmore for his atrocities committed against the state of Virginia between 1997 and 2001.

OK, so maybe that won't happen. But it might provide a measure of satisfaction
for Virginians to imagine Gilmore taking Milosevic's place in court.

Consider Milosevic's first comments to the court: "I challenge the very legality
of this tribunal because it is not established on the basis of law. This tribunal does not have the competence to try me," Milosevic said.

Now picture Gilmore saying the same
sort of thing, bringing the same sort
of arrogance to the table. Not too difficult,
is it? It would simply be more of the
same overbearing air of self-importance that Gilmore brought to his job from Day One.

Or maybe we could put him in the stocks at Williamsburg and offer up bushels of rotten tomatoes to all comers. Now there's satisfaction.

Of all the administrations of any kind
that ever presided over any constituency across this country, none could ever beat Gilmore's obsession with tax relief for
the sake of tax relief. Never have a politician's successes been made more irrelevant by his foolish and relentless pursuit of the campaign promise that
put him in office in the first place.

If only he'd had the courage to acknowledge
that economic conditions were changing, and to
abide by the promise he made to abort car-tax
relief if the economy sagged.

The rise and fall of the Gilmore administration should be required study
for every elected official
in charge of a budget or
any would-be political
kingmaker.

The flagrancy of the crime Gilmore committed while Virginians watched--and even applauded--has yet to be fully measured. Every day the reports from Richmond reflect a deepening concern about the state's fiscal ill-health. These are not the cries of chicken-little Democrats, but bipartisan warnings that suggest that no matter how bad you think the situation is, it is worse than that.

Certainly the downturn in the economy has played a role in the state's financial woes, but you don't find other states reeling like Virginia, because their chief executives weren't too stupid to understand and react to what surely was coming. They didn't pursue tax cuts of historic proportions when revenue projections had clearly reversed course.

Are you wondering why I choose to hammer away at such an easy target,
why I don't just let the poor man be?

Because I don't think he should get away with it. His negligence in high political office is going to reverberate in Virginia for years to come. From Virginia's homeless, aged and infirm, to its state employees and college students, to its businessmen who depend on state contracts for their livelihood, all will realize the fruits of Gilmore's demagoguery.

Anyone who uses Virginia's roads or parks or visits its tourist attractions will discover the damage one misguided administration can do.

Let's point out that Gilmore is only the Jim Jones here. He offered up the poison potion, but he forced no one to drink it. I think Virginians should recognize how penny-wise and pound-foolish so many of them were to leap aboard Gilmore's car-tax-cut bandwagon, and how quickly they saw it transform into Gilmore's fiscal-suicide express.

But in the end, history will reflect how Gilmore, single-handedly, gave new meaning to bad judgment and bad leadership.
He deceived the electorate, plain and
simple, and that's politics in its lowest form.

I keep searching for something positive, and it may be part of Gilmore's legacy that he has brought bipartisanship to a new level: Republicans and Democrats alike can despise Jim Gilmore.

RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.





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