The major news story to come out of Tuesday’s night RIPR debate between Republicans Ken Block and Allan Fung is that when asked the question about which elected official in R.I. he admires, Block said “I can’t think of one.” Fung went with state Representative Antonio Giarusso (R – East & West Greenwich); in the process making Block look like a jerk.
Now, to be fair to Block, his answer is pretty consistent with Ken Block: Moderate Edition™ who claimed that both parties were responsible for failure in Rhode Island. However, now that Block is seeking the Republican nomination, suggesting Republicans might be at fault for something probably is no more a recipe for success than it was when he was a Moderate.
In a follow-up report in The Journal by Katherine Gregg, Block’s campaign manager Jeff Britt tries to do damage control. It’s clear that Britt is far better at setting fires than he is at putting them out, and he proceeds to pour gasoline on this one. A (probably) more successful approach would’ve been to explain the nuances of the word “admire” and then say that Block respects the work of the many fine Republican office-holders like so-and-so and that other one (On Twitter,
conservative Andrew Morse offers up Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian as the easy answer, Morse says Block’s easy answer was state Sen. Bates). Maybe throw in a paean to the late John Chafee (if you can forgive some cynicism on my part).
Britt goes for the first half, explaining the nuance of Block’s view of “admire”: “‘Ken admires cancer researchers and people who make a difference,’ such as local businessman John Hazen White Jr.” As for politicians, including those who he appears with at campaign events, “they’re doing their job. They get elected to office to go do their job. They are not points of admiration.”
You could hardly have gone for an answer to anger your peers. Cancer researchers are just “doing their job” but in Block’s view that’s admirable. In fact, plenty of people we can find admirable are just doing their jobs. Politicians, meanwhile, are almost all elected to make a difference. They certainly aren’t elected on promises to do absolutely nothing, as we can see from the repeated failures of Bob Healey to get elected Lieutenant Governor.
The other thing I feel necessary to point out that in terms of good-doing and admirable work, running TACO corp and getting angry over the estate tax are not on par with cancer research. Not even close, really.
In the meantime, even if you’re like me and totally opposed to their agenda, you can at least find the willingness to go up the State House every session and be the opposition admirable from the tiny Republican caucus. Those Republicans are fulfilling a necessary duty of a legislative democracy, and that should be considered admirable.