Note: See two updates at bottom for newer details:
Hey, remember that time when Gov. Corbett was supposed to speak to students at Central High here in Philadelphia and when he heard that some of the students and teachers were going to protest his appearance (if not his very existence) he bravely turned his tail and fled to the safety of his office at the swank Bellevue Hotel, barring non-journalists from the room?
If you think that was cowardly, check out what brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Corbett is up today. Teamed up with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for what was supposed to be a Republican Governors Association fundraiser at the Union League, the embattled governor faced a civil war from hundreds of protesters who got wind of the closed-door event and gathered outside.
Corbett and Christie -- a former baseball catcher whom you think could have blocked the plate for his friend in Pennsylvania -- ran away ("Run away!") to a place where they felt safe and secure. (see UPDATE below). That would be the Comcast Center, built with state tax breaks (thus not contributing to the city's broke schools), where Corbett recently announced with a campaign fundraiser, Comcast's David L. Cohen, that he was extending another $34.5 million in tax breaks for a second Comcast castle (hopefully it won't fall into the mud...sorry, getting carried away with Monty Python nostalgia here.)
The symbolism is just too much.
And here's the thing: Like a lot of Pennsylvanians, I find it hard to see how Corbett can defend his record, slashing corporate taxes and giving his fracking industry campaign donors a free pass in the name of jobs that were never created, while school kids in the city don't have nurses, librarians or guidance counselors. However, Corbett could still get re-elected with those things on his record. But I can guarantee that he will never, ever win another election in Pennsylvania -- not even for dog-catcher (as if they ever elected dog catchers) -- without the respect that is earned from standing up to your critics.
UPDATE: Corbett campaign officials say the masses of protesters were wrong -- that the event was never scheduled for the Union League. If so, I could see why they wouldn't go out of their way to correct the protesters (who didn't have much problem walking across Center City to get to the Comcast Center). Either way, the event, the secrecy (certainly the media -- which normal gets scheduling info from top officials -- was kept in the dark about the exact location), and the Comcast bunker mentality is typical of the way Corbett has done business has governor. But I am changing the headline to reflect the ambiguity of the circumstances.
Meanwhile, protesters are reporting that six people have been arrested for sitting down and blocking traffic outside the fundraiser.
UPDATE NO. 17: (Just kidding...it only feels like 17.) NBC 10's Lu Ann Cahn reports she was told by a Union League employee that "they were notified last week the fundraiser was supposed to be here and then they got a call sometime today saying, ‘No, this was a decoy location' and…we learned from the Corbett campaign it was all very secretive until about a half hour ago that the event has been in fact moved to the Comcast Center.”
To amplify my earlier point, this is not normal political behavior, and I say this with more than 30 years (sigh) of experience with political campaigns. Presidents, ward leaders, whatever -- I've seen security to keep people out of fundraisers (which is totally within their rights) but this thing with the "decoy" is a new one. How can you expect to be re-elected when you're afraid to tell your own constituents where you are?