We, along with the Denver Post and various other amused parties, have talked quite a bit about GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton’s call to ‘abolish’ the federal Department of Education. The Post’s examination of the issue last December found that Norton was pretty distantly behind the times with this Reagan-era canned prescription for “reform,” and it’s not a talking point we expect to see repeated much once her Tea Party-centric primary is over.
Somebody really ought to get that message to gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis though, and check in on what McInnis is actually talking about–state versus federal departments for one thing, since there’s a difference. Here he is speaking extemporaneously at a Tea Party/912 Movement candidate forum last month:
A transcript, in case you found it tough to hear:
Katie Kafer: Are there any Colorado agencies, boards or commissions you would eliminate and why?
Scott McInnis: You could look at the Department of Education. You could also merge the Division or Wildlife, perhaps with — not Wildlife — but the Department of Agriculture with the Department of Natural Resources and some other mergers.
So, it’s one thing to talk idly about eliminating the federal Department of Education, with its arguably more remote and indirect role. It’s quite another thing to talk about eliminating the state Department of Education, which is much more directly involved with the day-to-day administration of Colorado schools, teacher accreditation, standards and testing, and other core functions. Suggesting we eliminate the state Department of Ed is…well, it’s totally ridiculous and unworkable, and crazier by several orders of magnitude than what Norton was lampooned for suggesting.
We’ll say it again: this is not some cutesy budget cutting gimmick; this is like suggesting that we eliminate the Colorado Department of Transportation, which as we all (should) know, would mean that roads would not be fixed, maintained or plowed. It’s completely unserious on its face.
In fact, it’s far enough over the top that it makes us wonder if he didn’t understand the question–but the moderator clearly did refer to “Colorado agencies,” and the other government departments McInnis mentioned are definitely state-based. Therefore, we have no choice but to conclude that eliminating the Colorado Department of Education really is what he said he would do as Governor.
We have no doubt that sweeping statements about ‘eliminating’ evil government departments at every level go over well at a Tea Party campaign forum, after all the percentage of homeschoolers in that room almost certainly was well above mean–but this feels a lot like one of those moments they looked back on with Bob Beauprez after his seventeen-point loss in 2006, and began to realize when it was that voters stopped taking him seriously.