Changing my mind on Gov. Greitens

Gary Sosniecki

As many times as I’ve been to the Missouri State Capitol since my first visit as a student reporter in 1972, I never knew that our governor, like the president, has an oval office.
I learned that when I sat in a news conference March 2 by new Gov. Eric Greitens as part of the Missouri Press Association’s annual Day at the Capitol. Helen and I have attended these meetings off and on for 35 years, but usually the governor speaks to us on the second floor of the Governor’s Mansion. The change of scenery this year was welcome if only because we got to see this large, beautiful office normally hidden to the public.
It also shouldn’t have been a surprise, because Greitens plans to be a different type of governor. Just like his Republican counterpart in the White House Oval Office, Greitens is a political outsider instead of the stereotypical back-slapping, hand-shaking, joke-telling politician. He and President Trump (and, for that matter, Lebanon Mayor Josh Ray) were elected in a year when voters were in a throw-the-bums-out mood, favoring outsiders even if they weren’t sure what they were getting in the bums’ place. (Like our mayor,Greitens shuns a necktie in public appearances.)
Not every governor would choose Nixa as a location for unveiling the state budget, something he noted in his remarks. Not every governor would tackle ethics reform his first day in office. Greitens reminded us that he signed an executive order banning state employees from accepting or soliciting gifts from lobbyists, as well as banning employees in the governor’s office, after they leave their jobs, from lobbying the Executive Branch while Greitens is governor.
Greitens has taken hits for not being as accessible to the statehouse media as his predecessors – the Columbia Missourian reported that this was his first full Capitol news conference -- but now that he’s been interviewed on Fox News Sunday as its “Power Player of the Week,” we’ll probably see more of him in the national media.
Shortly before the election I criticized Greitens in a column, because, in a debate with other gubernatorial candidates, he talked more about being a Navy SEAL than what he would do as governor.
But I liked the style of the Gov. Greitens I saw at the Capitol. He shook hands with every reporter entering his office – and there were about 70 of us. When a reporter asked a question, he asked his or her name and referred to them by name in his answers. Displaying politeness you would expect from a Navy SEAL, he responded “Yes, Sir” and “Yes, Ma’am” when appropriate.
For the complete column, see the Weekend print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.


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