"What's black and white and read all over?"

Thursday, April 27, 2006
Posted 9:01 PM by

Kissing butt with Ed Rendell

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell put his foot in his mouth this week when he said he approved last year's now-repealed legislative pay raise to kiss the lawmakers' butts.I warned Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

Three weeks ago in "Lies, more lies and statistics" I repeatedly wrote that "unless Fast Eddie puts a giant foot in his mouth or does something really stupid, he's virtually a shoe-in to win reelection."

And this is exactly what I had in mind.

Rendell shoved a Shaq-sized loafer in his gaping maw on Tuesday, telling members of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce he signed last year's now-repealed pay raise for top government officials to "kiss a little butt."

D'oh. Open mouth, insert shoe.

"If I didn't sign it, I might have been governor for the next five years but I would have gotten nothing done, literally, because I need the cooperation of the Legislature," Rendell said. "I've had remarkable success in getting seven major initiatives enacted into law. ... So you have to kiss a little butt."

"If I didn't sign it, I might have been governor for the next five years but I would have gotten nothing done, literally, because I need the cooperation of the Legislature. ... So you have to kiss a little butt."

- Ed Rendell
Pennsylvania Governor

There were all kinds of ways Ed could have replied to that question.

He could have curtailed his honesty a bit by saying he was willing to cooperate because two of the three branches of government requested the raise.

He could have lied and said he was politically against the move, but acquiesced to keep the peace.

He could have pulled a Drew Rosenhaus and simply said, "The issue is dead. ... Next question!"

Not Ed.

He had to be brutally honest and exposed his total lack of political courage. The emperor now officially has one shoe and I really don't want to see him with no clothes.

Rendell's gaffe - which was buried on page 3C of Wednesday's Bucks County Courier Times, for whom I used to be the online editor (I still do sports for it and two other Calkins Media papers as the sports editor at - is now a statewide mini-scandal.

Our governor hard at work seeking the Legislature's help.In a metaphor even TV football commentator Rendell can understand, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review picked up the ball and ran with it.

The "jaw-dropping statement" surprised Lenny Alcivar, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann's campaign, which up to now had been languishing.

"If the 22 years of experience Ed Rendell touts requires kissing a little butt, Pennsylvanians don't want that kind of experience," Alcivar told the Trib.

Once the Trib did its story, the Associated Press had to write something too. So now every paper in the state will report Rendell's and Alcivar's comments tomorrow.

Way to help your opponent Ed, and not the taxpayers, voters or yourself.

Is franking short for Frankenstein privilege?

Sandra Bradley was understandably angry after receiving a birthday card Saturday for her late husband from state Rep. Michael Diven. The late James J. Bradley Jr. also happened to sign Diven's reelection petition even though he's been dead for more than three years. (Photo: Steven Adams/Tribune-Review)If the Tribune-Review came in second on the Rendell story, they definitely came in first with this one.

We all know dead Pennsylvanians are not supposed to be able to vote. But apparently that doesn't stop the House Republican Caucus from sending them birthday cards and wishes for "the best happiness and health."

Those belated sentiments on behalf of state Rep. Michael Diven, R-Beechview, arrived Saturday - four years too late for James J. Bradley Jr., of Baldwin Township, who would be turning 73 if he hadn't died in 2002.

Diven had reason for wishing his dead constituent well. After all Bradley's signature and those of other deceased voters magically appeared in March on a nominating petition for Diven's reelection.

Diven apologized three weeks ago on a talk radio program for the bogus petition, a broadcast Bradley's widow heard. Then she got the birthday card for her late husband. As you can imagine, she is more than a little confused and upset.

"I was in disbelief, especially after what had just happened with the petition," Bradley told the Tribune-Review. "Wouldn't you think at this point they would have checked to make sure this doesn't happen?"

The mailing was a mistake, Diven said. "I sincerely apologize to Mrs. Bradley. It was definitely not intentional."

The names and addresses of birthday card recipients are generated from a central data resource provided by the House GOP caucus, Diven said, adding the list is not as up-to-date as it should be.

State Rep. Michael Diven, a newly switched Republican, still has the full support of his dead constituents. It's the live ones who will probably oust him this year.Diven, who switched from being a Democrat last year, withdrew from the primary after his nominating petitions were challenged, but before the Commonwealth Court ruled on them. He said a campaign staffer just copied names from an outdated street list.

His reelection hopes are not dead, though. Diven has said he may run for a fourth term as either a write-in candidate in the May 16 primary or as an independent candidate in November.

Maybe he'll win too, in another life.
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