Monday, August 13, 2007

Van Hollen on the inactive list

What does it say about a potential Republican candidate for governor when his biggest defender is Democratic political consultant Bill Christofferson?

J.B. Van Hollen, who took office in January, has come under fire for failing to prosecute -- or at least dirty up --the Democratic governor, Jim Doyle. The wingnuts are also unhappy about opinions he's issued on abortion and affirmative action issues.
Christofferson then points to an editorial by Madison's other liberal newspaper, The Wisconsin State Journal, as more evidence of Van Hollen's "even-handedness":
Sometimes you can tell that a politician is doing his job because he's not in the headlines very often.

Such is the case with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose low-key, by-the-book approach so far is a welcome change from the turbulent tenure of his predecessor, Peg Lautenschlager.

Van Hollen, a Republican, has made a string of wise decisions since taking office in January. He also has shown he's not the far-right ideologue or partisan opportunist that some had feared.
That he is not in the headlines as much as his predecessor Peg Lautenschlager probably stems from a rational decision not to swerve into a ditch with a state car while driving drunk.

It's understandable why the Wisconsin State Journal and Bill Christofferson might like the new JB Van Hollen.

After all, Van Hollen could've decided that the change in make-up in the US Supreme Court meant that there's a reasonable probability Wisconsin's ban on partial birth abortions would stand. Or he could have simply said the courts were wrong in this matter, but that it was unlikely the courts would agree with him in the short term. Either answer would have shown more intellectual vigor than Van Hollen has demonstrated so far.

The same answers could have been given in the question of racial preferences being used for admission to UW System universities. One could argue, as WISN's Mark Belling did, that Van Hollen was even behind current case law in the matter given a Supreme Court case ruling this last term.

If Van Hollen is unwilling to challenge the legal status quo, he'll have yielded the courts to the political left as much as if he had decided to not challenge Democrat Kathleen Falk in the general election.

As for Christofferson's pet project, protecting Governor Jim Doyle, Van Hollen never showed much interest in pursuing government corruption cases when he was the federal prosecutor for Western Wisconsin. Why should he start now? Christofferson can actually bet on Van Hollen being less interested in possible public corruption than his predecessor, Peg Lautenschlager.

Republicans should have already noted by now the broken campaign promises of JB Van Hollen: asking for an increase in his budget, similar harassment of business and farms, no initiatives yet on illegal immigration. Unfortunately, he gives his party little hope for improvement.

But he does give the Democrats hope they can re-claim his office while keeping the governor's mansion in 2010. Meanwhile Van Hollen can accumulate a nice scrap book.