’Ole Miss has its black bear. Not to be outdone, the Governor’s Office has its pander bear.
What besides a pander to the “civil-war-is-around-the corner “ crowd could be behind Gov. Phil Bryant’s order to his lieutenants in the Legislature to adopt measures that have their foundation in the long-discredited mid 19th century idea of state nullification of federal laws?
President Obama has vowed to initiate gun control measures he says are designed to prevent a repeat of the mass slayings that have occurred across the United States in recent months. In the best tradition of the Mississippi of 150 years ago, Bryant is fighting back with a cry for disunion.
How’d that turn out for Mississippi back in the day, Governor?
In his directive to legislators to enact laws intended to free Mississippi from federal dictates, Republican Bryant said he was acting in anticipation of Obama issuing executive orders to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
“I am asking that you immediately pass legislation that would make any unconstitutional order by the president illegal to enforce in Mississippi by state or local law enforcement,” Bryant wrote in a letter to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn, who are also Republicans.
The Associated Press reported that Bryant said in the letter that he believes any gun-control executive order by Obama “infringes our constitutional right to keep and bear arms as never before in American history.”
Mississippi resisted federal authority to enforce voting rights and racial integration during the civil rights era, but Bryant wants to avoid any comparison now.
“We were going the other direction then. We were saying, ‘We’re standing against the federal government’s authority to provide civil liberties,’” Bryant said in response to reporters’ questions at the Capitol. “And what we’re doing now is saying, ‘We’re standing against the federal government taking away our civil liberties.’
“There is a distance between the east and the west on this. And so any association with that, I believe, is baseless.”
No, sir, the comparison is hardly baseless. In both instances, Mississippi is ignoring what the rest of America elected its leaders to do.
Here’s another comparison Gov. Bryant isn’t going to like: The governors who have come before him in the last decade-and-a-half have done much better at job creation than he has. Even as the Great Recession has lifted, Mississippi has failed to show any momentum in job growth.
In fact, the job picture has worsened under Bryant’s watch the past 12 months.
These are findings contained in the January Economic Outlook issued this week by state economists with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. Payroll employment in Mississippi in 2012, estimated at 1.09 million, dropped to its lowest level since 1996. Recent improvement in jobs numbers still leaves 2012 employment about 5.5 percent lower than at the start of the recession in 2007 and slightly lower than in 2011.
That’s a harsh critique of the governor’s job performance but you recall he promised to put Mississippians back to work if we would only give him the job he so coveted.
If Bryant wants to keep that promise, the best advice we can give is to spend a lot more effort on creating prosperity than thinking of ways to separate Mississippi from the rest of the country.
And it could serve the first term governor well to remember the words fellow Republican George W. Bush spoke to America upon his first presidential election after a bitter recount fight:
“Remember, what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”