DON'T LAUGH AT ME, ARIZONA

You are J. Fife Symington III, a man for whom the ninth-floor governor's office is quickly turning into a scofflaw's tower cell.

Down below, another embarrassment surfaces almost every working day. If you, Fife Symington, had your way, the doors of the ninth floor would be sealed to muffle the nasty little scandals that keep popping up around you.

It did not take long. People are on to you.
You posed as a skilled businessman and now the betting in the business community is that you will be compelled to file personal bankruptcy within a short time.

Wherever you go, people keep asking if you will be able to continue as governor after you make that move.

There doesn't seem to be anything that would require you to resign. That it would be a disgrace for the state would probably not bother you.

You are a man who has always shown himself to be amazingly self-centered.
You presented yourself to the voters as a skilled leader and have demonstrated amazing incompetence in that area.

Your staff is made up of political hacks and campaign hangers-on who would have trouble finding jobs in the private sector.

This has led you to insensitive gaffes.
Without reason or compassion, you publicly humiliated the two top men in the Department of Public Safety. You put the Department of Public Safety head and his top assistant back on their jobs. Who gives them back their reputations?

You were compelled to do a 180-degree turn and bring them back. Obviously, your trusted adviser Gary Phelps was totally wrong.

Phelps is gone. So is the woman who calls herself Bunny who, incredibly, you named as your chief of staff. You transferred her to an office in Tucson. Possibly, that is far enough away from the ninth floor.

On a recent Sunday, a headline in the Arizona Republic compared you to Evan Mecham.

This past week, a political cartoon in the Mesa Tribune by Gary Markstein depicted you as pulling off your mask to reveal a diabolically grinning Mecham underneath.

It's all over but the shouting.
In less than a year in office, you have lost everyone's respect. You have become a laughingstock.

Your connection to the "world-class Esplanade" hangs around your neck like an albatross.

What will happen next? Nothing that emanates from that second-rate, overpriced project will do anything to shore up your reputation.

What about the Mercado? This is still another albatross. There are loans totaling millions of dollars to the City of Phoenix and to some overtrusting unions from their pension funds.

When will the ax fall on you there?
You are a glib man. You talk and weasel your way about with a certain skill.

But almost everywhere you turn these days there is someone ready to pop up to whom you owe more than a million dollars.

And this is the skilled businessman who would imprint his marketplace skills on state government?

This is the confidence man who borrowed millions from his wife and mother and avoided restrictions on campaign donations by asserting the loans were made "for love" and not political gain?

When and how do these loans of love get paid back? When is the first payment due?

You grew up expecting that ordinary people would bow before your ambition. You have coveted social prominence, but have become just one more figure of fun on the political spectrum. You wanted political prestige, but have succeeded only in exposing your ignorance as to how the game is played.

You ruthlessly sought added wealth and managed to create only crushing debts. You craved fame and gained only notoriety.

You lusted after the power of the governor's office on the ninth floor and found that for the inept it can become a prison.

Power for you turned out to be an illusory thing.
In the brief time you have been in office, you have managed only to create more and more questions as to your competence.

Only the daily newspapers are in your debt.
Every day, citizens go to their doorsteps to pick up the newspaper, waiting to see the latest revelation about the governor.

Once again, the eyes of the national press corps are turning to Arizona.
Another loony governor for Arizona, they say. Business Week magazine refers to Arizona as a "political sinkhole." You're J. Fife Symington III, a man to the manor born. Perhaps you should have stayed there.

Once again, the eyes of the national press corps are turning to Arizona. Another loony governor, they say.

 
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