Were Gov. Bill Richardson to hand pick me for his press staff, he and I would sit down and have a long talk.
Just suppose the governor did that. He won’t, of course, because he has already depleted the staffs at the Albuquerque Journal and Duke City TV outlets, plus he’s got Billy Sparks. But just suppose.
So here we are, the guv and I (he has already suggested I call him “guv”) sitting on the veranda of the mansion on a warm summer morning, being served designer coffee and boscochitos.
We are on the veranda because I do not believe, as a top adviser to the governor of New Mexico, I should have to hang out in some stuffy conference room. That is something the governor needs to understand before he puts me on his press staff. Just suppose.
The thing is, I tell the guv, we’ve got a problem with this vice president deal. You’ve gone around blabbing that you wanted to be governor of New Mexico, you are governor of New Mexico, and you will honor that commitment to her citizens. Blah, blah, blah.
The governor gazes at me across the table, his face puzzled.
Deal is, I tell the guv, that all made sense when you thought the Dems didn’t have a chance in hell. Who ever remembers the vice presidential candidate who lost? But now that it looks like John Kerry could win this thing and he might actually pick you, it’s a whole different political shuffle.
The governor gazes at me across the table, brows knitted, his head shaking slowly back and forth.
I got it figured out, I tell him. We say, look, the people of America have called. They need me. Who am I, your humble servant, Bill Richardson, to turn them down?
The governor gazes at me across the table with growing bewilderment.
Get a refill there, guv, I’m not done. Billy Sparks and the boys have been giving you a wrong steer on this title stuff. I mean, here’s the thing. Everyone in the world is trying to make you out to be an arrogant bully. Crazy John Dendahl harps on the dictator theme.
So, what do you do when you announce plans to hire someone to crack down on drunk driving? You call him a “DWI czar.”
Come on. DWI coordinator, good. Czar, bad.
You need to stay away from titles such as strongman, tyrant, despot, godfather.
See, guv, this czar business is a problem. A lot of folks know you as a warm fuzzy, a big cuddly teddy bear, but you are getting an image of being this mean old guy running some kind of thugocracy.
Like, remember what happened when that guy down in Hobbs blabbed to the press that your administration didn’t know diddily about economic development? Poof. He’s gone. So can this czar stuff.
That’s it for today, guv, We’ll take this up again in the morning. I am not used to long hours.
The guv, clearly alarmed, gazes at me across the table. “Who ARE you?” he screams as security guards gather.
Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman who supposes he is available for service on the governor’s staff. Contact him at: