On Tuesday morning, radio host Jim Vicevich was fired up the instant his microphone went hot.
He opened his “Sound Off Connecticut” show with a withering critique of the state budget passed by Legislative Democrats and focused considerable ire on the photo he’d seen on the Hartford Courant’s website, depicting two legislators playing solitaire and a third checking ESPN.com.
Within two hours, that photo had made the jump from the Courant website to the infamous Drudge Report, where it blasted worldwide. For the rest of the week, cable news anchors have generated faux outrage, political candidates grumbled about shamelessness, and casual observers rolled their eyes.
Jim Amann, former Speaker and erstwhile candidate for Governor, got a good barb in at his former colleague speaking in the photo, House Republican Leader Larry Cafero, saying: “If anybody has listened to Larry Cafero, it’s the same speech five or six or seven times a year, and it causes solitaire to pop up.”
The Milford Republican Town Committee has gotten into the act as well. Referencing the solitaire-playing legislator from their town, they will soon be the proud hosts of the Rep. Barbara Lambert Solitaire Tournament.
But with a movement afoot to ban such activities in the Hall of the House, there is a contrarian view that has to be expressed here. We don’t need less solitaire in the House of Representatives – we need more.
State legislators, when confronted with a bill for state government that exceeded revenues by $8.5 billion, simply put the debt on the state credit card and went home. They didn’t make the kind of hard decisions required by billion dollar deficits; instead, they securitized $1.3 billion of “undefined revenue streams”. They didn’t conduct an honest line-by-line review of every state program, ending the ones that don’t work and investing in the ones that do.
The situation demanded the very best from our legislators and instead they punted. The Governor did well to hold the line as long as she did, but even she ultimately used her Get Out of Jail Free card as Genghis noted.
So given their performance, it would be better if all the legislators spent more of their time playing solitaire.