It is going to take some time to get used to using that title without the name of Tom Ridge attached. However, it won’t take much time at all for Mark Schweiker to get comfortable in the role. If ever a Lieutenant Governor has been prepared to assume the top spot it is Mark Schweiker.
New leaders are often sold short. They are not the familiar, the comfortable, the proven. Until Osama bin Laden’s hellish storm troopers turned peaceful aircraft into missiles of destruction many looked upon George W. Bush as sort of a Texas Governor who happened to sit in the Oval Office. Before the Attack on America, Mr. Bush was portrayed as a mental lightweight, a real second banana behind the more experienced Vice President Dick Cheney.
His detractors were all wrong. In the hours after the Attack on America he made sure the country was secure. Then he rallied emergency workers at ground zero in New York City showing incredible empathy with his fellow Americans. Then came “The Speech”. In an oratorical and policy masterpiece unseen since the days of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush threw off the yoke of his close election and truly became not only the President of the United states, but the undisputed leader of the Free World.
In the midst of that speech another man whose readiness to hold national office had come under question also had a rendezvous with destiny. Tom Ridge, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, former prosecutor, former U.S. Congressman, and Governor of Pennsylvania was called upon to undertake the enormous job of protecting our nation’s domestic tranquility in this new age of terror.
It is a role for which Tom Ridge is well suited. He knows the horrors of war. He is the best man in America for the job.
Which brings us back to Mark Schweiker. After six years of serving as Lt. Governor Mr. Schweiker was ready to return to Bucks County and a more quiet life with his wife and three children. But those airplanes that slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have changed the course of his life as well. He cannot coast into retirement and a job in the private sector. We, the people of Pennsylvania, need him.
And he is ready. Lieutenant Governors, like Vice Presidents, are always viewed as not up to the top job. That’s because the nature of the job requires operating in the background leaving the limelight to the boss. He has performed his backstage role extraordinarily well.
Of critical importance is Governor Schweiker’s experience with Pennsylvania’s emergency services community. Security concerns by necessity will top his agenda. But he has also played a significant role in the Ridge Administration’s education and technology initiatives. And, of course, as President of the Senate, he is familiar and has many friends in the legislative branch. He will be ably assisted in his legislative initiatives by one of Harrisburg’s most experienced and effective legislative leaders, our new Lt. Governor, Senate President Pro Tempre Bob Jubelirer.
Moreover, before becoming Lt. Governor, Mr. Schweiker was a Bucks County Commissioner, and a township supervisor. It is fair to say he knows government from the town house to the state house. It is experience that will hold him in good stead.
Governor Schweiker, with due respect to the most extraordinary of circumstances which bring you to our state’s highest office, we bid you welcome. The hopes, dreams, and futures of millions of Pennsylvanians now rest upon your shoulders. You are a worthy successor to the chair of William Penn. We offer our prayers and heartfelt best wishes for your success.
May God bless you, and may God bless America!