For the second time in as many months, Governor Keating is being called on the carpet for making inappropriate comments about the state of Oklahoma.
According to a State Senate leader, the chief executive stepped over the line again yesterday when he referred to current day Oklahoma as "stupid and backward" because it had not yet enacted a right to work law.
"There he goes again," said Senate Majority Whip Keith Leftwich, borrowing a phrase popularized by former President Ronald Reagan.
"Governor Keating just doesn't seem happy unless he's insulting someone or something in Oklahoma. The Governor may think his rhetoric is funny or cute, but I assure you, labeling people as 'stupid' or 'backward' simply because they disagree with you is no laughing matter."
The Governor's latest outburst came at a new conference Monday when he attacked legislators who opposed right to work legislation. In response to a question about what right to work opponents favor, Governor Keating replied, "I think they're for the status quo - that which has made us stupid and backward and unresponsive to the things that make us competitive."
Senator Leftwich said that comment was out of line.
"I know Governor Keating will try to say that he was only referring to right to work opponents, but when he says 'status quo,' he is talking about all Oklahomans as they are today. Citizens who disagree with Governor Keating on this issue or any other issue are not 'stupid' or 'backward.' Our Governor needs to realize that when he uses inflammatory or demeaning words to describe anyone in Oklahoma he injures us all," said the state lawmaker.
"His comments hurt Oklahoma's image and cheapen the high state office that he occupies."
During his administration, Governor Keating has made a number of off-color comments that have caught the eye of both regional and national news media. Just last month, he made national headlines when he suggested that "homicide" was the best way to deal with the teachers union.
"I think it's great when a governor can bring Oklahoma national publicity, but unfortunately, all the coverage Governor Keating seems to generate is negative. It certainly doesn't help our efforts to attract new jobs when the Governor is making headlines with his inappropriate comments and
negative statements about his home state."
"We don't want to become the laughingstock of the country like Arizona did under former Governor Evan Mecham," said Senator Leftwich, referring to the former Arizona elected official who had a knack of generating negative publicity with his off-color statements.
The Senate leader is urging Governor Keating to make amends for his latest misstatement and try to be more circumspect in future remarks.
"I think an apology and a pledge to behave better in the future would be appropriate. I think Governor Keating should work harder at building Oklahoma up with his actions instead of tearing it down with his words," said Senator Leftwich.