Missouri Governor Too Busy with Real Problems to Acknowledge Breitbart

Gov. Jay Nixon has more important things to do than respond to Andrew Breitbart’s latest spurious attempt to influence politics with a fraudulent video smear.

Standing in front of the Old St. Louis Courthouse where the Dred Scott decision supporting slavery was one of the sparks that set off the Civil War, Gov. Nixon on Friday vetoed a bill that would have weakened the Missouri Human Rights Act protections for workers.

He spoke to a crowd of invited guests representing advocates for the disabled, minorities, organized labor and faith groups. Noting that only 10 days remain in this legislative session, Nixon urged the audience to “lock arms and move forward” to block the efforts of those who will “put energy and efforts to overturn” his veto.

“The rights of all are inexplicably bound to the rights of the few,” Nixon said before he signed his veto.

Indeed. Breitbart’s hashed-up video attempts to attack education and the labor movement in Missouri through two clumsily cobbled together videos of an online University of Missouri course on labor. Despite his history of releasing obviously doctored videos that are later repudiated, Breitbart appeared to have some initial success in attacking at least one of the professors with this latest video — Breitbart’s first foray into Missouri politics. It is a case of attacking the rights of an individual to attack the rights of all.

But Nixon did not rise to Breitbart’s bait. “I haven’t seen the video and I won’t comment on something I haven’t seen,” he told this blogger in a brief session with the media after his speech. He gave the impression, although he did not say so directly, that he has more important issues in the state than to give credence to the likes of Breitbart.

Nixon gave a glimpse of his focus for these next few days.

  • Later today he is heading down to southeastern Missouri to “work cooperatively with local folks” to deal with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to blast a hole in a levee on the Mississippi River that would flood 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland to divert the rising river away from Cairo, Ill. He defers to the Missouri Attorney General, who is pursuing the matter in federal court, even after a ruling earlier today by U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh that the Corps’ plan is legal. “I’m worried that [the Corps plan] could scour a new path of the river,” Nixon said. But “it’s important to say we need to be prepared” for the Corps to carry out its plan.
  • By tomorrow morning, he plans to look “analytically” at the legislature’s proposal for redistricting Missouri, which has lost a congressional seat as the result of the latest census. “I’m working on that this weekend,” he said in response to a question. “It’ll be a quick time frame. I won’t drag this out. We need a map that reflects the state. … But I haven’t spent … I need to spend some significant time on it before I can comment.”
  • He’s more or less done talking about the “Puppy Mill” measure that the voters approved last November and the Legislature passed a bill to repeal. Nixon’s “Missouri Solution” brought all sides together — those who want to improve breeders’ treatment of dogs, and agricultural interests who want to protect the right to breed animals — with a compromise bill that passed the Legislature earlier this week.
  • Following the Puppy Mill compromise, he’s working with legislators on an economic development bill that, he said, would be good for both businesses and workers.
  • He’s concerned about “a number of education programs” that some Republicans have targeted for cuts, including money for higher education and special education. On some of these, “the difference between the House and Senate is really small” and he is hopeful of a compromise. This could be seen as an oblique reference to the attempts by some legislators to use Breitbart’s video to cut funding for the University by discrediting two of its professors.

In closing, Nixon said he would take each of the “Fix the Six” measures being presented by anti-labor factions in the state as they come up. The bill he vetoed today was the first to get as far as initial passage. “We are working with leaders across the state” to find ways to entice companies to invest in the state.

“We’ll see how it develops,” he added. “but we are not going to build our economy by going backwards on civil rights or lowering compensation for workers.”

  ——-Virginia Gilbert

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