Meet Tom Corbett, change candidate

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A kinder, gentler Gov. Corbett? Recent moves toward the center-left make you wonder what might come next.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A kinder, gentler Gov. Corbett? Recent moves toward the center-left make you wonder what might come next.
Posted: March 13, 2014

PERHAPS YOU'VE noticed Gov. Corbett lately lugging his conservative record from the right over toward the center-left.

After pulling polling numbers more often equated with pestilence than politicians, Corbett, who is seeking re-election, suddenly is using his office to seek popularity.

As you might imagine - given his past positions/proclamations on women, minorities, gays, the unemployed, the needy and, well, everything - this requires some heavy lifting.

The guv just underwent hernia surgery. Maybe now we know why.

On food stamps, the same Corbett who in 2012 imposed an assets test on recipients (most states, including every state neighboring Pennsylvania, have no such test) forestalled federal cuts here last week.

After denying food stamps to thousands of households, Corbett now is saving food stamps for hundreds of thousands of households.

Thus the nation's most vulnerable Republican governor is also the nation's first Republican governor to prevent cuts imposed by Congress.

Let's be kind and suggest this has nothing whatever to do with his re-election but is rather the result of an evolving awareness of the world around him.

Same on health care.

After unsuccessfully suing to stop Obamacare as state attorney general and then, as governor, refusing federally funded Medicaid expansion, Corbett's now dialing back his work-search requirement for the poor to get coverage.

This, too, came to light last week, no doubt part of the evolution.

Finally, it was just announced that Corbett this month travels to Rome to meet with Pope Francis, part of planning for Philly's hosting a September 2015 Vatican-sponsored event on families.

One could argue that photo ops with the most popular person on the planet might help Corbett's effort to still be in office come September 2015.

I'm thinking, see, the pope likes him, how bad could he be?

(Of course, this is the same pope who says, "Who am I to judge?")

With all this in mind, one wonders what else might be coming.

Perhaps a new Department of Women's Health Care funded by new Eyes Wide Open grants providing centers in all 67 counties.

A Governor's Commission on Finding Public Employment for Hispanics.

A Clean Urine Initiative (Pa. Pee) in which members of the governor's Cabinet and senior staff (well, most of them) offer free clean urine to any unemployed person unable to pass a drug test.

Maybe get that 900-pound bronze Joe Paterno statue from its undisclosed location and install it outside the governor's mansion; or at least reinstate the Penn State-Pitt game.

Bring back Gus, Pennsylvania's second-most-famous groundhog.

Make the guv's security detail 100 percent LGBT? Uniforms. Handcuffs. What could go wrong?

Or, as a couple of colleagues suggest, roll out a series of announcements in the months ahead.

A pledge offered on the steps of the Philadelphia School District building to address newly discovered "outrageous underfunding" of city schools.

Fund schools with a tax on natural-gas drillers, spurred by a surprised Corbett saying, "What do you mean we're not taxing frackers! Whose idea was that?"

Finally, in October, a campaign announcement that the No. 1 priority in a second term will be dealing with climate change, and that during the first week of a second term the guv will meet with John Hanger and officials of NORML to map strategy for legalizing marijuana.

If every poll is to be believed, Pennsylvanians want change.

Seems to me if Corbett stays on the path he seems to be traveling, he and his campaign can quote their favorite Democratic president and offer a new campaign slogan: "We are the change that we seek."


Email: baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer

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