If the improbable political rise of Matt Bevin left your head spinning, the new Republican governor did nothing to ease that dizzy feeling in a lengthy inaugural speech.
Speaking without notes from the Capitol steps on a balmy, sun-soaked day, Bevin swung from motivational-style speaker, urging people to be the best versions of themselves and practice the Golden Rule, to Tea Party orator, invoking the 10th Amendment and ranting against federal overreach.
He insulted the six preceding governors on the stand with him by bemoaning what a mess Kentucky is, then called for more cordiality and a change of tenor in public discourse.
Bevin led the crowd in repeating “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” then launched into a standard stump speech, hitting on charter schools and a few other partisan hot buttons, before swinging back to lecturing on how we must rise above partisanship.
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Bevin doubled down on his illogical, costly plan to dismantle Kentucky’s successful health insurance exchange. On the up side, he vowed to take care of Kentuckians on Medicaid, saying he would borrow ideas from Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who attended the inaugural.
Bevin promised to change the public pension plans to save them.
He wisely called for prioritizing discretionary spending for education and infrastructure, but didn’t say how Kentucky’s decrepit tax system would produce any discretionary funding, especially since he also promised tax cuts.
He urged those in attendance to pick up their trash, though, unsurprisingly with coal executive Joe Craft as a master of ceremonies, the new governor issued no calls for the coal industry and other industrial-scale polluters to clean up after themselves.
Bevin is nothing if not a great salesman. Though his inaugural address left us still perplexed about exactly what he is selling, at this early stage in his term, we’re just going to give our new governor the benefit of the doubt.