Thursday, December 29, 2005

"West Wing" Shout-Out

From the Allentown Morning Call in Pennsylvania on a new County Executive:

"On his first day in office he plans to abolish the county executive's personal parking space. He said he will hand out a paper to all county employees that says, ''If I were county executive, I would…'' to let everyone from custodians to administrators give advice.

When he served as Lehigh County human services director, Stoffa was known for being open with the press, even when the news wasn't good. He said his philosophy hasn't changed.

''The best policy is to be honest, and tell the truth and tell it as soon as you can, as much as you know,'' Stoffa said.

That's music to the ears of those who are used to lawmakers permanently on spin cycle. What so many otherwise intelligent politicians don't get is that being open and admitting errors is usually smart politics. Witness how President Bush got a bump in the polls after he started fielding unscripted questions about the war and acknowledged some mistakes.

Listening to Stoffa, I was reminded of an early episode of ''The West Wing'' in which political operative Toby Ziegler is asked by a higher-up on the Jed Bartlet presidential campaign what he advised the candidate to say if dairy farmers confronted him about a vote that angered them.

Ziegler replies, ''I told him if asked about his vote tonight he should — if only because it's the easiest thing to remember — tell the truth.''

Bartlet does just that, explaining to a man in the dairy industry that, with one in five children living in poverty, he didn't want to make it harder for Americans to buy milk.

''If that angers you, if you resent me, I completely respect that. If you expect any different from the president of the United States, you should vote for someone else.''

I don't know if Stoffa will be a great county executive. Jimmy Carter is proof that you can be a model of good government without being a great leader.

But putting your conscience before your contributors is a good place to start."

See Season 2's In the Shadow of Two Gunmen Part 1.

No comments: