Watchdog’s remark sends Rendell on a tear

Posted: July 11, 2007

HARRISBURG - As Philadelphia mayor, and now as Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell has never been known for his thick skin.

Ask any reporter who has ever covered him. They all expect, from time to time, to get an admonishing call from Rendell for stories, which in his view "couldn't be more wrong."

But earlier this week, an activist really got under what little skin Rendell does have.

In an Inquirer story yesterday about the state budget impasse and the Democratic governor's problems with GOP legislators, Eric Epstein was quoted as saying Rendell "misread the political landscape."

"I think he believes he has a mandate to pillage, but he won 61 percent of the vote against an empty suit last year and he didn't have a clear agenda until June 30," added Epstein, a Holocaust scholar, nuclear power watchdog and founder of the public interest group Rock the Capital.

The comments set Rendell off. He called an Inquirer reporter fuming that the paper gave Epstein any ink at all.

"Eric Epstein," boiled Rendell, "is about as mentally stable as that guy who ate all those people."

It was unclear whether the governor was referring to Jeffrey Dahmer or Hannibal Lecter. Either way, Epstein took it in stride.

"I invited the governor to my home for the first night of Passover. He declined. I thought it was due to scheduling," Epstein said. "How was I supposed to know that the governor was allergic to Chianti and fava beans."

Contact staff writer Mario F. Cattabiani at 717-787-5990 or

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