It is election day in Kentucky, and it appears, in these early hours, that the voters will remove the incumbent Republican governor for incompetence and ethical obtuseness.
I may have to eat these words by the end of the day, but the polls suggest I am on solid ground.
Kentucky elects its governor the year before the country elects its president. It is tempting to see this election as a bellwether of the next one. Sometimes it looks that way. Four years ago, when a Republican evangelical replaced a Democrat with a zipper problem, our race looked like a preview of the presidential race. Of course, Democrats had won for three decades before that, which did not at all presage Democratic presidential victories since Johnson.
Ernie Fletcher came in promising to "clean up the mess in Frankfort." He promptly committed exactly the same mess as his predecessors. And then denied it, on the grounds, I think, that "we are the good guys" and by definition can't do wrong. Then, when it was proven that two dozen of his guys had indeed done wrong -- led, I am sorry to say, by a former Centre College student body president -- Gov. Fletcher pardoned them all.
I thought he lost the election right there, years before it was held.
Then, when forced to admit that they had been guilty after all, he fired them, though they were still pre-emptively pardoned.
I suggested that he make a campaign pledge to pre-pardon his second administration for all their future crimes. He did not take me up on it. It appears not to have helped him anyway.