It’s hard to say what’s worse about the Meg Whitman non-voting scandal: the fact that she didn’t register to vote until she was over 40, or the shifting stories and arrogant prevarications she’s used to explain her dodgy civic behavior.
As Whitman heads to the Republican state convention this weekend, her front-running campaign for the party’s nomination for governor is under a political cloud, after a terrific investigative report by the Bee’s Andrew McIntosh threw a harsh light on her decades-long failure to carry out the most fundamental duty of American citizenship.
After a lifetime of disdain for participating in the democratic electoral process, she now lays claim to one of the nation’s highest and most powerful elected offices.
Unctuously purporting to “take responsibility” for three decades of failure to vote, she treats the Bee’s honest inquiries about her record with a dismissive shiftiness that smacks of entitlement and the unmistakable implication that she was simply too important (i.e. “busy”) to bother casting a ballot.
The most telling part of the McIntosh report comes when he challenges her unsubstantiated and undocumented assertion that she was registered as a Republican by 1998:
“In an interview, Whitman said she was registered as a Republican before coming to California, but declined to say where the public record might be found.
‘Go find it,’ she said.”
“Go find it”? Really? Is that the kind of intransigence and dripping contempt Californians can expect from a Gov. Whitman in the face of legitimate questions of transparency, accountability and integrity?
As to her lame, oh-so-sorry attempt to quickly brush away the story, eMeg issued a pro forma statement through a flack that carries echoes of countless, lawyered-up, busted celebrities and jocks declaring their intention to do better, use their transgressions as a moral lesson and “put this behind me.”
“Voting is a precious right that all Americans should exercise. I have repeatedly said that my voting record is inexcusable. I failed to register and vote on numerous occasions throughout my life. That is simply wrong and I have taken responsibility for my mistake.”
Wait a minute, Your Royal Megness, what exactly does that mean? You’ve taken responsibility for your mistake? What mistake? Getting caught at not having acted like a citizen most of your adult life? How have you “taken responsibility” for that? By going back and casting post facto ballots for Ronald Reagan, George Bush or for the recall of Gray Davis? Her cookie cutter mea culpa, like most of what Whitman has been peddling for months, is simply fatuous rhetoric.
And then there’s those pesky little details on which eMeg and her handlers just can’t seem to get their stories straight.
Like telling Republicans last year she had not voted “on several occasions” –- which now becomes “numerous occasions,” but only after being caught out by the Bee. Or major domo Henry Gomez’s handy explanation of why she didn’t become a Republican until 2007 — that she registered “decline to state” because she was new to California and unfamiliar with its candidates; but Whitman herself, after deciding to jump into the governor’s race, told Republicans it was because she wanted to appear nonpartisan in her role as CEO of eBay. McIntosh reported:
“Gomez and (press secretary Sarah) Pompei declined to reconcile the statements.”
In announcing this week that she is “officially” running for governor, Whitman declared with great sanctimony that “Californians want to trust their leaders again -– they want to be told the truth.”
At least she got that part right.