Following the hard-fought Democratic primary, newly elected Governor Peter Shumlin shrewdly defused (and diffused?) his key Democratic rivals by offering them cabinet posts overseeing the most challenging departments of state government.
To Deb Markowitz, he offered the Agency of Natural Resources; and to his most successful rival, who came within a hair of winning, he offered the Gorgon of them all, Health and Human Services.
How could Doug Racine have possibly resisted the temptation to take the reigns of the agency that, at least in theory, could bring all of his priorities to fruition?
Of course his stewardship was doomed to failure from the start; and that was the genius of Shumlin’s appointment.
Not only did Racine step into this complex suite of agencies at the very moment when austerity measures closed the tap on its already limited resources; but as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Racine was in line to be the principle scapegoat for all the blame that would inevitably accompany the rollout of Shummy Care.
It was always in the cards, even before Hurricane Irene made matters worse. Doug Racine was to be permanently neutralized as a rival for Shumlin’s future ambitions.
It was always in the cards. The only question was when it would all blow up and how far the shrapnel would travel.
I keep reading that Racine has barely been heard from since taking on Health and Human Services. Could that have had something to do with the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”
I suspect there are volumes of meaning in that silence; but Racine is a good Democrat and a generally nice guy, so we won’t hear it from him.
His “boss” wouldn’t hear of a tax increase on the wealthy to enable HHS to do a proper job of dealing with the growing pool of need in Vermont; but Racine had accepted the thankless job of helmsman on the Titanic, and it was his job to make the best of things until it was time to go down with the ship.
Do I detect a hint of sulphur in the air?
Cue orchestra. (Curtain.)