Most of you don’t know that I have literally written thousands of speeches, not for myself, but for many leaders in organized labor, titans of industry, and some serious politicians, some of whom are serving today. These speeches are written within the guidelines of confidential agreements and I have always taken this job very seriously, paying a great deal of attention to the person’s natural delivery and passion, or sometimes the lack thereof.
As I was writing my column for today, and this is NOT it (well, it is now), it occurred to me that if Governor Rick Snyder sought me out to help with his State of the State Address, it would go something like what I am about to write. Although I left the speech writing business more than a few years ago, I believe I have seen, heard, and explored about as much as I could without spending real time with him. I don’t really want to spend some real time with him at this point, but let me give this a go.
The Good People of Michigan:
I have been honored to serve as your Governor over the last five years where much has transpired over that time. But to truly understand where I came from and where I am going, I am now required to do something I haven’t felt compelled to do before and, in fact, don’t feel completely comfortable doing now. But current situations, and yes the plural is important to what I am about to share, matter.
When I decided to run for Governor of Michigan back in 2009, I was counseled by many powerful and well-connected friends in the Republican Party both here in Michigan and beyond. Over the course of my career as a leader in the tech field, and due to the handsome income that I was fortunate to amass over the years, my political influence grew as the checks I wrote to politicians gave me great influence, something that I enjoyed. I enjoyed it to the point that I thought that it might be fun to be a politician myself. So, I set off on finding the best team to get elected governor that money could buy, guilted some in the GOP into giving me money and introducing me to others who could help me get elected, and, most importantly, decided to take some good advice from Dick DeVos who told me that the less I said about myself and the more I talked about the problems in the State of Michigan, the better off I would be.
Little did I realize that the mainstream media would require little of me. But they loved slogans like “Relentless Positive Action” and other silly, nonsensical phrases that sound like action but really mean nothing. I mean really, Relentless Positive Action, how do we even define that, right?
I also quickly realized that, because everyone running in the primary was well known, as long as I said nothing and smiled and looked uncomfortable but sincere, I could do a lot to get myself elected. I was aware that I would eventually have to surround myself with people who actually knew something about running a state, which, of course, I did not do. But I knew at the time that there were many people who I could choose from who looked and sounded a whole lot more learned about issues than I did. And I was right about that.
I also found out that I could raise money effortlessly once I won as long as I did something for the people who wrote the checks. I didn’t feel bad about that because they all do it and by “they” I mean elected politicians. I then found that even the political leaders in the legislature of my own Party, who didn’t like me much, would bring me legislation that allowed me to raise even more money and no one would have to know who wrote the check. Now don’t get me wrong; at first, I thought I was being misleading. But it was so easy to sign laws that made things easier for those who write big checks to continue to do so and who was I hurting anyway?
Well, here we are in 2016. The past five years have flown by and truth be told I thought maybe I wouldn’t really have a chance to get reelected because a lot of voters were plenty upset with me for some good reasons. So I thought I would run again, but do very little to get reelected, control the crowds who “showed up”, and just see what happened. And you know what? Democrats like to complain but they don’t seem to like to vote for some reason. In fact, when I was told that when districts were redrawn by my own Party – and, I mean, how much better does it get than that?! – getting reelected was easier (even though I did come close to losing) than I ever thought it could be.
I share all of this with you because I also read the blogs and know that maybe I didn’t do a very good job of hiding in plain sight. I also have to admit that, while my arrogance and money did buy me what I wanted and also bought a lot of rich white guys what they wanted (even in the face of the increased attacks on me), it all seemed OK mostly because I was getting away with it. Plus, I wasn’t really doing anything illegal or anything that could be traced directly to me, for that matter. But who’s counting, right? Well, someone obviously was and I now realize that just because you can get away with something, even something legal, it doesn’t make it right.
Before I get into specifics, I trust you have all heard about the massive debt my administration has created for the citizens of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools. When I personally saved the City of Detroit by forcing Public Act 436 on all Michigan citizens, I knew I knew better than the voters who voted down a very similar Public Act 4. But, because we have laws that allow me to ignore the will of the people and all I had to do was something as easy as putting what is called an appropriation in a bill, making it literally impossible for voters to ever question my wisdom ever again, I was on a path to being a real hero. I saved Detroit with an Emergency Manager, tried to do the same thing in Benton Harbor, Allen Park, Highland Park, more school systems, etc. Hey, I tried and, if voters and school teachers had left me alone, things would have worked out OK, for the most part. So yes, I created over $300 million in debt for the Detroit Public Schools. I created the Education Achievement Authority where the people who ran it were too stupid to cover their tracks like I have. And I oversaw a resurgence of the Michigan economy that we all know had to do with former President George W. Bush and President Obama. Yes, they did save the auto industry and manufacturing and, if I am forced to admit it, Governor Granholm did much more to help the people of Michigan than I have done to this point. But this is politics and you take credit for something that looks like you actually did it, even when people outside the mainstream media have you all figured out. Frankly, the mainstream media, which I find amusing, just kissed my ass. Maybe they should not have done that, in hindsight.
Now, I could talk about dismantling the progress that was being made with the film industry in Michigan that was providing jobs. It was a great investment but was just too liberal for me and others in my Party. I mean, seriously. Anyway, that’s over for good and I put that behind me. Yes, I cut education funding and the math clearly shows that, but, hey, once again, the mainstream media let me get away with it, right?
We could talk about so many other policy changes, changes that have mostly taken away democratic rights, voting rights, women’s reproductive health rights, and the list goes on and on. I can and have found a way to live with all of that and the idea that electing a Democrat for governor or turning the House into a Democratic majority will somehow reverse all of the changes I have made. Hell, let’s be honest, even if you do get a Democrat elected as Governor and turn the House back to the Democrats, by the time you get the Senate back most of you will have retired and moved from Michigan so you won’t have to pay the burdensome taxes that I imposed of retirees. Although I played it like health care matters to me, and it kind of does, I knew that the Republicans in the House and Senate would have my back and they would have to take most of the blame for ignoring all of the good that the Affordable Care Act has done. But, once again, who’s counting?
But now we have the situation in Flint. The water, the denial, the reality of disease, poisoning, infections, rashes, and a list of problems getting so long that trying to cover it up is just not possible any longer. None of this is my fault, of course, and none of this really matters because I was trying to save every taxpayer in Michigan money. No one seems to appreciate that effort, at least not in the way they should.
As someone who likes to be liked, this has been very hard on me. Just ask Sue. I go home every day and tell her that people are just too self-centered, have no idea what “fair share” means, and are jealous of my money and the money of others in the Republican Party. The really amazing fact is this: Just because Flint’s water made a few people sick, and no one, even the mainstream media, unbelievably, would give me time to make up stuff that took the focus off of my office.
I quit! I mean it, I quit.
I spoke to Lt. Governor Calley today and told him this job sucks. No one appreciates what you do. No one sees that I have saved taxpayers a lot of money. I know mostly wealthier residents have benefitted but, eventually, that would help all of us. The ridiculous idea that eliminating or reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit was THAT big a deal or that those food stamps, or whatever they are calling them now, helped that many people and were things that I should actually spend time on was, well, it was just unnecessary just because.
So, effective immediately, I am quitting this job and letting someone else do it. I was never that comfortable doing it anyway and really wished that I had not run for reelection. But I did, I somehow won, and I don’t want the job anymore, OK?
Listen, the stuff that I listed is really just the tip of the political mountain that I created and will be held accountable for. But I just don’t like Lansing. I can’t stand Speaker Cotter and Leader Meekoff so it’s time for me to move on. I realize you will continue to talk about me and that that perception is what it is. But I’d just as soon quit than take responsibility for the people who worked for me who should have known better. I mean, am I really responsible for other people’s mistakes? I think not. If this is politics, you can have it. If I’m to blame for all the bad things that have happened like the damned Nerd Fund (which was no big deal) or any of the other sixty to seventy things that put me on the offensive all the time, who needs that?
OK, so I am sorry to the people of Flint. But the Detroit Schools and all that other stuff, especially the criticism about democratic rights, etc., is frankly bullshit. Again, all I was trying to do was take care of those who took care of me, learn on the job, save some people some money, and get out alive so that when we elect a Republican as President, I would have a job, some stability, and could maybe a future in politics. But the hell with that now. I’ll take the millions of dollars that I was paid over the years and find another way to spend it.
It’s over as of now. But, like my friend Kwame Kilpatrick, you haven’t heard the last from me and if you have the idea that some legalese will trap me and put me in harm’s way, think again. I am Rick Snyder and all I ever wanted to do was help me and some friends and if there is something wrong with that, well, that’s your problem.
The State of the State is not good right now, but that’s mostly because too many people expect too much from me and that’s on them.
Thanks and goodnight!
Oh, if only!
I will still be watching and watching closely because there is no way to spin what he knows, when he knew it, and what will he do about it. How much do you want to bet his plan to fix DPS and Flint will be unreasonable, will never make its way through the legislature, and at the end of his term – which I really wish were going to be tomorrow – we’ll be right back where we were when he began: knowing little about him.
Welcome to Pure Michigan.
Oh, one last thought. The big line in last year’s State of the State was about “a river of opportunity”. Did he know then that river was polluted, poisoned, and could be the river that carries him out of town?
One has to wonder.