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When Lieutenant Governors Attack

Scott on October 24, 2007 at 11:33 pm

Chris Matthews interviewed California’s Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi on Tuesday night about the wildfires. Oddly enough, the wildfires seemed to pale in significance to Garamendi’s desire to throw snide comments around about President Bush, the troops in Iraq and the California National Guard.

YouTube has the clip, but I decided to make it easy and transcribe the exchange as well.

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Chris Matthews: Governor, thank you for joining us. Is the federal government doing what it has to do here?

John Garamendi: Well, they are doing a lot and, uh, we appreciate what they have done thus far. Resources are coming in the US Forest Service Seventy units from, uh, Arizona and Nevada and all that’s good. I got some doubts about the value of President Bush coming out here. That, uh, you know how many times he go to New York, uh to New Orleans and still, um, make promises but hasn’t delivered? Um, we have the Terminator out here, Governor Schwarzenegger is doing a good job and, uh, we’ll see.

CM: Do you think it’s public relations rather than action?

JG: Of course it’s public relations! Uh, the actions taking place by the hard-working fire fighters and men and women, the police that are out there on the line and the community that’s, uh, pulling together to support each other. That’s where the action’s taking place. And, uh, I know I’m OK, if President Bush comes out we’ll be polite, but, uh, frankly I’ve that’s not the solution. How ’bout sending our National Guard back from Iraq so that we have those people available here to help us?

CM: Do you think the President’s arrival will distract from the effort to fight the fire?

JG: Absolutely! No doubt about it. The President goes someplace, you’ve got a huge entourage you got Sequel Serv Secret Service all over the place and, uh, all the chaos that comes with whatever President arrives, wherever the President happens to arrive. But, uh, listen, what we really need are those fire fighters, we need the equipment, we need, frankly, we need our troops back from Iraq. Uhm, we’ll get on here whether he comes or not, that’s not really, ah, really the issue. I just hope that if he does come, he brings more than he brought to New Orleans.

(NOTE: I transcribed this exchange word for word, so if you think that at times the Lt. Governor sounds a bit like an uneducated fop, it isn’t because I transcribed his comments incorrectly. It’s because he does, indeed, sound at times like an uneducated fop.)

So Garamendi questions the usefulness of Bush’s visit to the West coast. Fair enough. He doesn’t want Bush to visit California in the middle of a crisis. He believes it is a waste of time. But if I remember correctly, Bush also received criticism after Katrina when he didn’t visit the area soon enough. I guess it’s true that sometimes you just can’t win. I’m not sure what promises he is referring to that President Bush made that he hasn’t fulfilled, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.

As far as “sending our National Guard back from Iraq so that we have those people available here to help us,” I would expect the Lieutenant Governor to have better awareness of the situation before shooting off his mouth. He mentions the National Guard as though the fact that some are serving in Iraq is placing the state in dire straights. Perhaps Mr. Garamendi wasn’t aware of the fact that of the approximately 17,000 California National Guard members, only 1500 of them are on active duty and serving in Iraq. Does Garamendi actually believe that having 10% of the National Guard in Iraq is a hardship for the state? The head of the National Guard doesn’t think so.

Maybe facts are just too confusing to Garamendi.

And speaking of facts, California Senator Barbara Boxer has jumped on the National Guard bandwagon with this press release that says in part:

“The California National Guard has lost so much equipment as a result of the war in Iraq that, according to the Secretary of the Army, the Guard may lack the capability to respond to a large scale emergency such as a catastrophic earthquake or major flood. This is unacceptable. My amendment will help Congress get a more accurate picture of the Guard’s equipment shortages and needs so we can ensure we are fully prepared to respond to domestic emergencies. We must not wait for disaster to strike before we act.”

Like Garamendi, perhaps Ms. Boxer should be more aware of the facts before she speaks. According to Chief of National Guard Bureau, LTG H Steven Blum (the guy who should know),

“I have heard claims that there are not enough National Guard available, and that simply does not reflect reality Maj. Gen. Bill Wade, the adjutant general of California, further informed me that he has all the personnel he needs and that he is appreciative of the Guard’s forward-leaning response. Should the requirements change, and Governor Schwarzenegger needs more National Guard, he will get them without delay.”

So much for the Boxer/Garamendi view of reality. Maybe they could go pick up a shovel or a fire hose and do something of real benefit to the state. All their hot air is simply adding to the problem.

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