author On Politics

Richard Borreca

Lingle delivers
message well, but
results are pending

Effective leaders look at the governor's office as a "bully pulpit" to focus attention on important issues.

As Theodore Roosevelt, who coined the phrase "bully pulpit," said, "The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice."

The trick, then, is to get on the public's wavelength and start shouting.

In her own way, Governor Lingle has done a first-rate job of illuminating what the public wants by turning a laser light on demands for better education, a war on drugs, an improved business climate and honest government.

Previous governors have not always been as successful in figuring out how to go after what the people want. Gov. Ben Cayetano, for instance, was a steady and focused supporter of improving education and repairing the business climate, but he sometimes got sidetracked with visions of waterfront aquariums and Central Park designs for the Ala Wai Golf Course.

Lingle is putting much of her emphasis this spring on school reform. To that end, she visited two schools last week and plans trips to three more this week.

"I'm doing a lot of schools because education is important," Lingle says.

Leading the charge on significant issues is part of the job, but there is always a question of leadership and effectiveness.

Lingle sees the high profile of the governor's office as an important way to sell an idea.

When asked how she measures the success of her campaigns, she says she feels that "just raising public awareness and keeping it focused is success itself."

Republican Sen. Sam Slom is a strong Lingle supporter who doesn't completely agree.

On raising all four issues of drugs, business, ethics and education "she has clearly been successful," Slom said.

But he acknowledged that Lingle has been the least effective in what is probably the most important campaign: improving education. Pointing to Lingle's trip to Iraq last month at the behest of the Bush administration, Slom says Lingle's timing was terrible.

"It could not have been worse," Slom says.

Besides being out of town when the last-minute legislative lobbying on the education package was going on, Slom argues that Lingle is blunting her effectiveness at the Legislature by looking for compromises and "being nice and hoping they will change."

Taking a longer view, Lingle says her intention is to get voters to focus on and pay attention to her issues and that will "send a message about what is important."

We'll see how well that message has been delivered in November when the polls close for the general election.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at


E-mail to Editorial Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --