The governor's image


THE writers and the editors at Time magazine don't know Bob Taft any better than Ohioans do, but they have tapped into some unhappy truth in naming Mr. Taft one of the three worst governors in the United States.

As the magazine noted, Mr. Taft "was widely considered an inept, ineffective leader even before he ran afoul of the law."

It's a pity that the two-term Republican governor is considered a failure from a national perspective, but he really has no one to blame but himself for disgracing his venerable family name and tarnishing the Buckeye State's reputation.

For far too long, Mr. Taft turned a blind eye to problems in the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, which on his watch doubled its questionable rare-coin investment scam with political donor Tom Noe to $50 million.

When those problems were exposed by The Blade in April, they cast an even harsher glare on the governor's ethical obtuseness and the petty graft-taking of some of his top staff members.

The result: the first criminal conviction of an Ohio governor in history, for the ignominious offense of failing to report 47 golf outings paid for by associates, including Mr. Noe.

"The only thing more stunning than the spectacle of a quivering, hangdog Ohio governor pleading no contest in August to criminal charges is the fact that he is still in office," Time intoned.

That is a good point, but it is precisely the kind of publicity that Ohio does not need, especially in these tough economic times. What business and political leaders would want to deal with Mr. Taft, unless it were to take easy advantage of a chief executive weakened by scandal?

The governor's spokesman was reduced to calling the Time article "a cheap shot," a typical reaction by political coatholders unable to refute bad news about the boss.

In truth, the only thing cheap about this whole tawdry affair is the enduring sleaziness that accrues to and mars Ohio's national image as long as Mr. Taft remains governor.