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Easley Criticizes Washington Politics In Op-Ed Piece

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Is North Carolina's governor tired of the way things are being done in Washington D.C., or is he just looking to play on the national stage?

Gov. Mike Easley has offered a recent strongly worded editorial, entitled "Washington Should Be Ashamed," that could soon appear in three of the nation's largest newspapers: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

In his piece, sent to newspapers last Thursday, Easley calls Washington budgets "a mere numbers game rigged against the poor and powerless."

He chastises Congress for gutting health care, child care and home-heating assistance, while giving more tax cuts to the rich thus "expanding the budgetary black hole."

"He's obviously trying to get some attention on the national stage," said Raleigh News & Observer political columnist Rob Christiansen, who has covered politics for 30 years. "To be heard on the national stage, you have to use some strong language."

The question, however, is "Why?"

"I think it's going to spark some interest in talk about possibly running against Elizabeth Dole (for U.S. Senate) in 2008," Christiansen said. "He says he's not interested, but who knows? He could change his mind."

Some political observers say Easley may be interested in a vice-presidential bid, or even more.

Those close to the governor say Easley believes Washington should be ashamed and that he is extremely frustrated with federal cuts the state now has to pay. They say the editorial piece has nothing to do with Easley wanting to seek a higher office.

Christansen says that may be accurate.

"Most of the people who have a glimmer in their eye right now, for 2008, are moving around the country, but Easley is not," Christiansen said. "So, it's really hard to see him running for president."