Aside from death-penalty cases, it’s the toughest decision governors make.
And that’s so regardless of whether they are Republican or Democrat, named Holshouser, Hunt, Martin or Perdue.
The dilemma: A gubernatorial appointee is accused of an ethical – or even criminal – violation.
Immediately, the media demands that heads roll. Political opponents pounce.
Then the governor hears from the other side: the appointee and his or her friends.
Most always, the appointee is a friend and supporter. He or she gave money. Or even hosted an event in their home for the governor.
They say: “The media is making a mountain out of a molehill. You need to stand by your people, Governor. A person is innocent until proven guilty.”
But the media, political opponents and much of the public assume the opposite: guilty until proven innocent. There is an automatic assumption that anyone in politics is by definition corrupt.
“Just another example of the pay-to-play culture,” the righteous thunder. As though a governor should only appoint people who oppose his or her policies – or are agnostic. Heaven forbid you put someone in public office who might be committed to your priorities.
What’s worse, it’s tough for the governor to ferret out the facts. The appointee and friends tend to cover up. Their opponents leak damaging information in the most damaging way.
And, in today’s hurry-up, 24-hour news cycle, there is little patience for deliberation and fact-finding.
But, in politics, you only find sympathy in the dictionary, and you know where. That’s why governors get paid the big bucks and live in the big house.