Footnote Four

A collection of thoughts on Law and Politics and how small, seemingly unimportant things (like footnotes) can become large and important vehicles for historical transformation (like the infamous Footnote Four).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Good Job Joe

I really want to take a minute to applaud the efforts of West Virginia's governor, Joe Manchin. I once wrote a paper analyzing the WV governor's race (back in 2004) and I had predicted at the time that he would win and do an excellent job. I think that he has lived up to that prediction.

On Wednesday there were two additional mining accidents in WV, bringing the total number of miners killed recently to 16. He called for a temporary shutdown of all mines in WV so that they can all undergo new safety screenings by state and federal authorities. Normally mines are inspected every three months, but there's obviously something wrong in a state where so far this year there have been three times as many deaths as there were in all of 2005.

The one thing that strikes me about Governor Manchin more than anything though, is how genuinely upset and concerned he is. WV is the leading coal producer in the U.S. and this mining shutdown will certainly cause them a significant loss of production and revenue. He really doesn't seem to mind. When disasters befall other states the governor is always the first on television and I always feel like they don't really care as much as they purport to. Manchin's uncle was killed in a mining accident many years ago, members of his family still work in mines, etc - bottom line: he gets it. How many times has Kathleen Blanco lived in the Ninth Ward, how many of her cousins were trapped in the Superdome, etc - bottom line: she doesn't get it. This leads to me to wonder if bigger and better things may be in his political future?

WV is an interesting case study in politics though. Both of their senators are old-school Southern Democrats (Byrd and Rockefeller), as is Manchin, but their residents turned out in droves in 2000 and 2004 to vote for George W. Bush. It goes to show you that the unions still have a good strangle-hold over the state and Senate races, but people vote their religion for President no matter what the union says.

I really like when the hard-working guy wins. In Ohio you have Bob Taft, about as crooked of a politician as you can find (and as connected - did I mention his name was Taft - as you can get). But in WV, they voted for the small town guy Joe Manchin. He strikes me simply as a hard-working man who cares about the state and its citizens. I think WV is lucky to have Joe Manchin!


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