Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens this week did a good job promoting a cleanup of a vandalized Jewish cemetery near St. Louis. Then he rained a bit on his own parade.
The event Wednesday, which included Vice President Mike Pence, drew hundreds of people and positive attention in the wake of such a reprehensible event.
But afterward, Greitens slipped in an odd message (which I have highlighted below) near the end of his social media post on Facebook, one of his favorite ways of communicating with Missourians instead of through the pesky media.
“President Trump called me and asked me to let you all know how proud he is of our state. Vice President Pence expressed his admiration for our workers and the crowds that came to clean with us. For too long the world has known Missouri for our embarrassments, failures, and scandals. Today, we showed the world our energy, faith, and strength.”
On Twitter, Greitens was even a bit more blunt:
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) February 23, 2017
That contention about their state being “known for failure” irritated a number of people, who responded negatively on his Facebook post and Twitter feed.
Like all states, Missouri certainly has its share of problems. The “scandals” Greitens is talking about, for instance, could easily include all the state lawmakers who have engaged in unethical behavior in recent years.
But here’s one important thing to remember about Greitens and the statements he made Wednesday.
He now has the position and the power to help solve some of the troubles facing Missouri. That happened on Wednesday with the cemetery cleanup. Yet far bigger concerns exist.
Here are a few, along with what Greitens so far has said about them.
— Missouri has the nation’s lowest cigarette tax, which essentially encourages the rate of harmful smoking in the state. That boosts crippling health care costs for residents.
Greitens’ position: He has opposed higher cigarette taxes on “hardworking Missourians.”
— Missouri’s roads and bridges are in troubled shape, according to state transportation experts and even Greitens himself.
His position: He opposes a tax increase on “working families” to improve them.
— Missouri state workers are the worst paid in the nation. That leads to high turnover along with a tendency not to get the best employees in state government.
Greitens’ position: He did not include a pay raise for state workers in his recently proposed budget plan.
Adding insult to injury, Greitens in his State of the State Address claimed the state had a “big, bloated bureaucracy.” As I wrote at the time, he used misleading statistics. In reality, Missouri had the 26th highest rate of state workers per residents, in the middle of the pack.
Greitens hasn’t exactly rushed in with good plans — outside of vague talk about being more “efficient” and squeezing taxpayer dollars — to solve these and some other troubles in Missouri.
As a neophyte politician, Greitens in the early weeks of his tenure has enjoyed railing at elected officials who created the messes he says he wants to clean up. But guess what?
Those “embarrassments, failures and scandals” are on his plate now.