Commentary

Maybe our governor needs a refresher in high school civics

September 27, 2019 2:21 pm

President Donald Trump and Gov. Doug Ducey at a White House meeting on June 13, 2019, where Ducey talked about the state’s occupational licensing recognition law. Screenshot via YouTube

The very first bill that Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law, less than two weeks after taking the oath of office, requires Arizona students pass a civics test before they can graduate from high school. 

“How can we expect (young Arizonans) to protect the principles on which this country was founded, if we are not preparing them for that task right now?” he said in that speech.

After his flippant dismissal this week of the scandal that has engulfed the Trump administration and kicked off an impeachment inquiry, perhaps he needs a refresher civics class.

Ducey on Wednesday waved away the steps being taken to impeach President Donald Trump for withholding military aid from Ukraine unless that country dug up information on his political enemies – and then covering it up. 

My compatriot at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, John L. Micek, nicely summed up just how flagrant an abuse of power this is:

(T)here is something so singularly offensive about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his utterly transparent request for help in digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter — not to mention Trump’s offer to detail Attorney General William Barr to that effort — that every previous assault on our Democratic norms by the narcissistic 45th chief executive just looks like an amateur hour performance in comparison.

But Ducey can’t be bothered with thinking about such things. Nor can he imagine why Congress would want to.

For our governor, the constitutional check against an abusive executive is “not what (lawmakers) were elected to do.”

“People were elected to actually do the people’s business, and they’re falling short of that responsibility in Washington,” he told reporters after a public appearance Wednesday, per The Arizona Republic

In this extraordinary moment, some 32 months into an extraordinary presidency that has been defined by behavior that has tested – and seeks to destroy – the very guardrails established by the Constitution, Ducey sees nothing out of the ordinary.

This impeachment inquiry, you see, is “typical congressional behavior.” 

The most troubling thing about this week’s news to Ducey is that now Congress is distracted from the Important WorkTM of “getting stuff done.”

By contrast, the Republlican governors of Massachusetts and Vermont have publicly supported the impeachment inquiry. 

“Congress has a solemn responsibility to every American to fulfill its role in our government system of checks and balances,” said Vermont Gov. Phil Scott.

And Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the week’s revelations are “a deeply disturbing situation and circumstance and I think the proper role and responsibility for Congress at this point is to investigate it and get to the bottom of it.”

Of course, Baker and Scott haven’t tied their fates to Trump like Ducey has. After spending the first two years of Trump’s presidency doing everything possible to avoid being linked to the standard-bearer of the GOP – he had to win re-election in 2018, after all – Ducey has spent much of 2019 aligned with our narcissist-in-chief.

Our business maven governor supported Trump’s threat to close down the U.S. Mexico border  and he stood with Trump’s call to implement tariffs on Mexico, our largest trading partner.

And who can forget the Trumpian govern-by-tweet episode in July when Ducey threw in with the own-the-libs crowd and torched a package of tax give-aways to Nike because he didn’t like their decision to not sell a shoe featuring an American flag.

It’s not surprising that Ducey wants to once again distance himself from Trump. I’m sure he’d like to return to the time when he could call Trump a diversion. But when the nation’s founding principles are at the core of a political scandal involving a president he’s so suddenly and publicly embraced, he doesn’t have that luxury.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.

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