Highlights from the hour

    10:16 a.m. Here it comes, the “why did you wig out at Lesley Stahl” question?

    10:35 a.m.  – On his successor: “Let’s give Tom Corbett some breathing room. Let’s hold off on the partisanship until 2012.”

    10:43 a.m.  Caller calls Rendell “Mayor Rendell.”  Marty tries to correct, Rendell stops her. That in fact is his all-time favorite title.

    10:56 a.m.  Rendell says he has 30 chapter titles for his memoir, and 12 chapters written.

    Admits he will miss the arena.  Whatever he can do on media, “it won’t be the same.”   

    Ends with another Michael Jordan reference.  Who knew the guv was such a hoops fan, too?

    10:55 a.m.  Finally, casinos.   Rendell says it’s a good question whether Philly will now end up with only one casino, after the collapse of Foxwoods.

    10:54 a.m.  Onto legislative pay raise, Rendell’s “biggest regret.”    Says he should not have signed it, but questioned why there wasn’t equal outrage about the “pension grab,” which he says cost several times more in taxpayers dollars.

    10:50 a.m.  A mom of autistic children tosses Rendell a bouquet.  He accepts it.   In the control room, the hunt is on for a caller with a question critical of Rendell, without it being a person who wants to go on about a personal grievance.

    Rendell waxing on about the needs of autistic children. Here’s the thing about the exiting governor: He can be crass; he can be temperamental.  But he does sincerely care about policy; he gets worked up about issues, not just personalities or politics.

    10:48 a.m.  On to drilling in the Marcellus Shale.  Rendell states pretty crisply his down-the-middle position: The drilling is a potential job boon to parts of state where unemployment is chronic, but it must be carefully regulated and monitoring for environmental damage.

    “We have to do both.”

    Laments lack of a severance tax on shale:  That happened “only because the legislature broke a promise to the people of Pa.”

    10:45 a.m.  Here come the “Hessian” remark calls.   Active duty military man from Texas objects strongly to being termed a “Hessian.”

    Rendell clarifies that what he meant by the “hired Hessian” statement was the private consultants used in Iraq etc employed by companied like Blackwater. He thinks he was clear the first time, and I did understand that is what he meant, but in fact he was not clear about that at all.  His comment, taken out of context and without knowledge of his views, could indeed have been seen as referring to the volunteer military.  Which would be a very bad thing to have said.   

    Hessians, by the way, were the German soldiers hired by King George III to help fight the colonials in the American Revolution.  They were the troops surprised by George Washington in the Christmas raid on Trenton (Washington crossing the Delaware and all that).

    10:43 a.m.  Caller calls Rendell “Mayor Rendell.”  Marty tries to correct, Rendell stops her. That in fact is his all-time favorite title.

    10:38 a.m.  Marty asks about Harrisburg “culture of corruption.”

    Rendell says the culture “where lobbyists reign” in Harrisburg goes back decades.   “Extraordinary power,” held by lobbyists he says.    Complains coal lobby blocked him from a key reform.

    10:35 a.m.  –  On his successor: “Let’s give Tom Corbett some breathing room. Let’s hold off on the partisanship until 2012.”

    He lists all the ugly fiscal challenges Corbett races: deficits, pension costs etc.

    Ed now turning to his favorite topic:  test score rises and other good educational news during his tenure. Hopes Corbett doesn’t cut education aid.

    This, folks, will be a loooooong answer. The guv is tough to slow down when he get’s rolling on his favorite policy topics.  Let’s see when and how Marty breaks in.

    10:34 a.m. –  Rendell: “There’s a difference between good government spending and bad government spending, and people got to figure it out.”  He cites infrastructure investment.

    10:32 a.m.  Back to 60 Minutes (how’d that happen?).  Rendell: “Show me somebody who doesn’t lose his temper and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t care.”

    10:30 a.m.  Rendell would try to be a “voice of moderation” on TV, he says.

    Talking about being on Chris Mathews, and how while on the show he downplayed the significance of the kerfuffle over U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick of Bucks County missing his swearing-in.

    More important, Rendell says, was the hypocrisy of House Republicans for reneging out of the box on promise to allow amendments on bills, in re: the health-care law repeal.  Says Republicans who are playing to their base in pretending to be able to repeal the bill, which they won’t.  “This is what is wrong in politics.”

    10:25 a.m.   What next, Marty asks?

    Rendell says, “Make some money.”  Laments that elected officials do not make Michael Jordan language.

    Says he’ll do, “Some media. Not so much for the money but to continue to put out some important ideas.”

    Then back to his gun limits position.

    “Would like to do as much as network TV as possible, not cable, to reach largest audience. .. Want to reach the people who don’t have their minds made up … the third in the middle who control the elections, who think, who listen, who are up for grabs.”

     

    10:22 a.m.   Marty asks the “nation of wusses” question.  Smiling sweetly, of course.

    Ed sticks to his guns.   Eagles-Vikings game should not have been postponed, he says.  Ties it into general atmosphere of risk-aversion in America:  “Do you know in some school districts your kid can’t bring a peanut-butter sandwich in because some other kid has an allergy.”

    Ed does a “greatest generation” riff, saying we wouldn’t have won World War II. Marty mentions that we’re fighting two wars now.  Ed says, in so many words,  “Yeah, with Hessians, hired guns, not with a draft.”  He’ll get killed for that one.

    10:20 a.m.  In a break now.   In a peek into the trials of a Radio Times screener, I’m listening to producer Patti Leswing try to let down gently a person who has some personal grievance with Rendell, and has called three times trying to get on the air to yell at him.

    10:16 a.m.  Here it comes, the “why did you wig out at Lesley Stahl” question?

    “I lost my temper because she asked the same time five times. She was goaded by her producer. That’ s who I was looking at, not Lesley, who I know and like.  They are goading, looking for confrontation. That’s what they do.”

    Concedes there is a down side to gambling in terms of addiction and financial trouble, but: “Whether we have slots or not, people are going to gamble. .. The ills are going to exist whether or not we have slots or not. Why shouldn’t we have the upside? … There’s 70,000 people who have jobs now, with benefits, because of gaming.”

    Knocks network news for taking “holier than thou” attitude about cable news shoutfests, saying, 60 Minutes invented the confrontational mode.

    10:13 a.m.  Marty asks if the angry tone of discourse can be “dialed back.”

    Rendell says the problem is that politicians try to “feed the base” by “demonizing the other side.”

    “There is no reason for all this rancor,” he says.

    10:10 a.m.   Re: Arizona shooting …  Rendell criticizes general “you’re my enemy” tone of political discourse.   Says both sides do it. 

    Then turns to a favorite topic: gun limits.  That someone like the accused shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, could get a gun so easily should “give us pause.”

    Shootings particularly horrible, he notes, because Congresswoman Giffords’ town meeting at the supermarket was an event “at the heart of American democracy.”

    But he said, if he were still in office after next seek, he would continue to go out in public, because if you stop “the crazies have won.”

    10:08 a.m.   The governor claims that he’s doing this farewell round of interviews because the press “badgered” him into doing it.  OK, sure.

    10:05 a.m. Hello, we’ll be live-blogging Gov. Rendell’s appearance today on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane.

    Of course, today everyone’s buzzing about Rendell’s feisty appearance last night with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes.  Marty will be sure to ask him about that, and many aspects of his legacy from his time in Harrisburg:  education reform, casinos, natural gas drilling, budget woes.

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