Today's topic is "the stretch."
It's that moment when a candidate, incumbent, or even a legislative body overreaches for political gain.
And, yeah, I know that's 24/7. Just more prevalent in election years.
Let's look at recent examples, starting with the obvious.
When one party controls the White House and Congress and blames the other party for a government shutdown (or anything!), that's a stretch.
As was calling President Trump's trip to Pittsburgh last week government business, no politics, even as Trump tweeted, "Will be going to Pennsylvania today in order to give my full support to Rick Saccone, running for Congress in a Special Election (March13). Rick is a great guy."
Saccone is also great Trump fan, a state lawmaker who, as the New York Daily News was kind enough to remind us, once backed legislation allowing customers to carry guns in Chuck E. Cheese.
(Because what goes better with pizza and kids than firearms.)
Then there's Lt. Gov. Mike Stack. Had a press conference earlier this month just before the state Supreme Court heard arguments on a gerrymandering case.
Stack presented an oversized Pa. map on an easel outside his Capitol office. It offered new congressional districts he said are fairer than current ones.
Called it the "Stack map." Labeled it "Stack Illustrative Congressional Map."
The problem? It's neither of those things. It wasn't drawn by Stack or his staff. It's a map already in evidence. One of many. It's from a University of Minnesota poli-sci professor who already testified in the case.
So, a Democratic incumbent LG seeking reelection has a solution to redistricting woes? A stretch. A big one.
How about GOP state Sen. Scott Wagner suggesting Gov. Wolf's recent opioid disaster declaration takes away peoples' guns (and not just at Chuck E. Cheese).
Wagner argued such declarations activate laws banning open-carry. No evidence it ever happened during past emergency declarations for, say, hurricanes, floods, blizzards. No indication it could happen.
So, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor actively protecting gun rights in a pro-gun state? Stretch.
And not confined to Wagner.
The House Judiciary Committee has a brand-new bill sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R., Cumberland), "Protecting Second Amendment Rights During Emergencies." It's listed for a committee vote Jan. 23.
Hmm. Quick action to solve a problem for gun owners? More like a pander-stretch on a non-issue in an election year.
Then there's state Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery), a maybe congressional candidate for the Philly `burbs seat held (for now) by Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.
Leach wrote an op-ed this month responding to detailed reporting in the Inquirer and Daily News that for years he's gotten pretty skeasy with young female staffers and campaign workers, touchy-wise and verbally.
Wolf called on Leach to resign. He didn't.
Instead, Leach took a little listening tour, and wrote, "I learned that I have been largely oblivious to the nature of power dynamics and privilege, both between men and women and between employers and employees."
Leach is a lawyer, a former adjunct at two colleges, a savvy pol, a smart guy, a plugged-in liberal, and a 15-year incumbent lawmaker representing a district in a major media market.
And he never got the men/women, employer/employee dynamic? Was "oblivious?" But now he understands?
Seems a stretch. Sounds like he's still running for Congress. Which, given Meehan's newly surfaced apparent issues with that very same dynamic, could make for either interesting debates – or a wide-open field for other candidates.
Finally, a more subtle stretch example, one of my favorites: the Pennsylvania legislature.
Pays itself "full time." Is in session roughly 70 days a year.
It's now back in Harrisburg after a five-week holiday break. And, of course, after its members got their annual pay raises.
I could say welcome back, you're all worth every penny and no doubt eager to once again buckle down and work your darnedest to do what's best for the citizens Pennsylvania.