Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Beshear does his duty; Conway chooses ideology over responsibility

Wow.

That's about all we can say after the bombshells dropped Tuesday morning by Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway.

After Conway decided to abdicate his duty and responsibility and announced that he would not appeal the recent federal court decision on same-sex marriage, Beshear stepped in and said the state would hire outside counsel counsel to pursue the appeal.

We've been highly critical of Beshear since before he was elected. We generally don't agree with his agenda. He's been ineffective in defending Kentucky's interests against the national leaders of his party, including President Obama. He's failed to generate support for his projects and initiatives, most notably casino gambling in Kentucky. And lately, he's been Obama's biggest ally in promoting Obamacare. Since he's said he is not going to run for any more elected offices, he had nothing to lose by not pursuing the appeal.

We believe he's done the right thing in appealing the court ruling, not because of the subject matter of the court case, but because of the duty incumbent on state officials to uphold and defend state laws and the state constitution. We as citizens don't get to pick and choose which laws we obey. Elected officials, therefore, shouldn't get to choose which of their duties they carry out.

The language of Beshear's statement leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of taking a stand on the subject, or declaring his duty-bound obligations, he said he wants clarification and wants to give Kentucky a seat at the table when this matter is finally decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. That's disingenuous and evasive, especially since the governor said he'd have no more comment on the matter and would basically be in hiding from the press for the rest of the day.

Nevertheless, for whatever reason, he's doing the right thing. He is upholding the oath he swore twice and is doing what he's duty-bound to do. As harsh as we've been with him over the years, we commend him for this.

Conway, however? He has failed to do his duty. His decision means that the state will have to spend taxpayer dollars to hire the outside counsel to pursue the appeal (unless the governor directs his general counsel to handle the matter,which would be a viable option). He's also in violation of his oath of office, no matter what rationalization he's offered or what cover U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has provided.

Little Jackie Conway should either resign or be impeached. He is not fit to hold his office.

Politically, Conway's decision is also questionable if he chooses to run for governor next year. Same-sex marriage is still not supported by the majority of Kentuckians, and this matter will no doubt bring conservatives to the polls. Conway and his biggest gubernatorial rival, Auditor Adam Edelen, both seem to be in agreement on this issue and in line with the national liberal wing of their party, so the issue most likely won't be a factor in the Democrat primary. But expect it to come up in the general election.

As we said previously, this isn't about the subject of same-sex marriage itself. It's about elected officials carrying out their duties. In this case, Beshear has done so but Conway has not. We really expected it to be the other way around. Beshear, with nothing to lose politically, would have been free to pander to his party's national liberal base; while Conway, who plans to face the statewide electorate this year, would seemingly want to think about angering the state's conservative majority, especially conservative Democrats who make up the majority of that party's registration in Kentucky. Instead, the opposite happened.

We congratulate Gov. Beshear for honoring his oath, and we condemn Conway in the strongest possible terms for abandoning his sworn duty. We hope he pays a price for his misdeed.

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