The only thing more stunning than the spectacle of a quivering, hangdog Ohio Governor pleading no contest in August to criminal charges is the fact that he is still in office. Bob Taft, the Republican great-grandson of a U.S. President and son of a Senator, could have received a two-year jail term for failing to report, as state law requires, 47 golf outings paid for by others, but a municipal-court judge let him walk after slapping him with a $4,000 fine. Taft has since ignored thunderous demands for his resignation, even from many onetime allies.
The Governor was widely considered an inept, ineffective leader even before he ran afoul of the law. As Ohio's manufacturing economy shriveled, his most identifiable initiative was a minuscule literacy campaign. The worst may lie ahead for Taft, who has 14 months remaining in his term. He faces a lawsuit alleging that he and other state G.O.P. officeholders awarded generous public contracts to campaign contributors.