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New Republic: All Aboard The Charisma Train

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder displays a booklet about the Mackinac Bridge during a news conference Wednesday, June 1, 2011, at the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual conference on Mackinac Island, Mich. Some consider Snyder to be an affable moderate.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder displays a booklet about the Mackinac Bridge during a news conference Wednesday, June 1, 2011, at the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual conference on Mackinac Island, Mich. Some consider Snyder to be an affable moderate.

Alec MacGillis is a writer forThe New Republic.

The drab Amtrak depot in Detroit, Michigan, was recently the venue for a truly surreal scene: A Republican governor accepted—gratefully—a check from the Obama administration. This was not just any federal funding, either, but $200 million for that most Europhiliac of abominations: passenger rail. Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Ohio's John Kasich, and Florida's Rick Scott had all rejected the money. But here was Rick Snyder, the state's new Republican governor, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Carl Levin, John Conyers, and John Dingell, beaming genially and brandishing a giant check. "It's about economic development," Snyder said, "but it's also environmentally sound, and it's about great quality of life." What was wrong with this guy?

This wasn't Snyder's first deviation from the finger-in-the-eye style of governing that is now ascendant in the Republican Party. Since being elected last fall, he has refused to gut Medicaid, instructed his administration to implement the health care law despite his opposition to it, defended embryonic stem-cell research against conservative attacks, and conspicuously avoided the scorched-earth rhetoric on unions that is popular with most of his Republican colleagues. By all appearances, Snyder comes across as a moderate answer to Walker, Kasich, Scott, and New Jersey's Chris Christie. But actually, that couldn't be further from the truth. In his own mild-mannered, non-confrontational way, Snyder is doing a far better job than his more bombastic conservative peers of delivering on the contemporary GOP agenda.

Read the rest of this commentary at The New Republic.

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Alec MacGillis