That old saying usually refers to excesses of greed, but it has relevance to other examples of over-reach.
Take the embarrassing effort by majority Republicans and Governor Pence to deny Glenda Ritz the office to which she was elected (by more votes than Pence received, not so incidentally). The GOP is stripping her of everything but the title.
I have no idea whether Ritz might have done a good job as Superintendent of Public Instruction in the absence of the sustained assault she’s endured. (Given several less-than-strategic responses to that assault, I have my doubts.) Under the circumstances, however, her performance really is irrelevant–the Governor moved against her before she’d had time to perform.
Brian Howey has a recent column delving into the background of the hostilities involved, and the role played by the politics around Common Core. The column included this observation, which I think is dead on:
The other political subtext has been the two-year feud between Ritz and the State Board of Education, made up of mostly Pence appointees. Republican legislation is targeting Ritz’s chairing of the board. The legislation has energized Ritz’s base, as well as the sprawling Indiana education community that helped forge her upset of Bennett.
The visuals here are Republican supermajorities and the governor seeking to take away duties of an elected official, and a female at that.
If Pence had clamped down on the legislation aimed at Ritz, the ISTEP story would be hers, not his. He now finds himself in a political minefield, not impossible to escape, but …“He has now taken ownership of the issue,” said one Republican county chairman speaking on background. “The jungle drums are beating.”
The resentment from teachers (including those who typically vote Republican) is palpable; the turnout at last Monday’s statehouse rally–despite bitter cold and snow–should have sent a message to lawmakers about the pitfalls of energizing an opposing base.
Granted, a clueless GOP super-majority is approaching a number of issues in an equally ham-handed fashion. The assault on the state’s “common wage” is unlikely to affect more than a handful of projects, but the symbolism of attacking it is calculated to enrage and motivate union members and sympathizers. The all-out assault on the environment–via a number of ALEC-drafted measures meant to insulate corporate farms from lawsuits for polluting state waterways and to hobble regulation–has similarly galvanized the environmentally-conscious.
But it is the over-reach against Ritz that has garnered the most headlines–and pissed off the most people–and it is that childish assault that is mostly likely to come back to bite Pence and his legislative consiglieri’s.