When Terry Madonna, the voice of conventional wisdom in Pennsylvania politics, thinks Tom Corbett’s blundered the politics of the NCAA lawsuit, you can be sure that the Governor has officially lost control of the media narrative:
Whether one endorses these arguments or not, many fair minded people will agree that most of them should have been aired when sanctions were imposed. Corbett’s lawsuit, better late than never, will do that.
The stakes for Corbett in this bold strategy are immense. In going after the sanctions and the NCAA, he is adopting a politically popular policy. At the same time he risks the credible criticism that he is a hypocritical politician who initially supported the NCAA actions as necessary “corrective actions,” but now is changing course because he is in political trouble. Furthermore, suing the NCAA puts the case squarely into the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, a strategy with some significant plusses and minuses for him.
All in all, Corbett’s action seems to be an instance of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. In defending the state’s rights against what many believe to be an out of control trade group, Corbett is exercising the leadership expected of the state’s chief executive. But he is doing it belatedly and perhaps reluctantly. For Pennsylvanians, a measured review of the correctness and proportionality of the NCAA sanctions is a necessary, if painful, exercise. For Pennsylvania’s governor it may also be a necessary, if painful, exercise – and one fraught with potential political peril.
No wonder the PA Republicans are belatedly trying to whip up base support for their embattled Governor.