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Tim Skubick: Schuette gets political points for siding with the underdog

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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -

Oh boy.  This was going to be a juicy story.  The state attorney general announced a couple of days ago that he would, as the "People's Attorney" stand-up for the 20,000 or so Detroit city government retirees, while the governor and his side-kick Kevyn Orr went after the same pensioners in bankruptcy court.

It appeared on the surface to be a classic Bill Schuette vs. Rick Snyder confrontation that was, as rock and roller Robert Palmer use to sing, "Simply Irresistible."

Political scribes start foaming at the mouth when the think they see one Republican staking out a different stance than another Republican and some even eluded to that split in their initial filings.  In fact the Wall Street Journal was headed in that direction and at least one other reporter wrote about the "split" between the two.

Here you had the governor saying that his "heart went out to the pensioners" while the A.G. was saying something more reassuring: I will stand with you in your corner to defend your rights to your pension check.

To be sure organized labor was suspicious of what Schuette would really do, but they welcomed him to the fray nonetheless.

So what about the him vs. him story line?

For the naysayers in town who wanted to transfigure this into a "Schuette Goes Behind the Governor's Back" headline, what did occur is that the Snyder's office got a heads up before the decision was made and announced.

Recall that the governor himself reported that he wanted the pensioners to have a seat at the table but he never suggested it would be Mr. Schuette.  Mr. Schuette saw the opening and jumped in with both feet.  And mouthpieces for Mr. Orr and the governor have not complained about it apparently understanding that Schuette is just doing his job.  No harm. No foul.

What he is defending is the state constitution that he contends is "crystal clear in stating that pension obligations may not be "diminished or impaired" or in common English, keep your mud-hooks off the pensions.

Mr. Orr is not so sure about the guarantee and the bankruptcy judge has indicated he will rule on whether that guarantee applies in this case.

Either way many may see this is a huge win-win for Mr. Schuette.  Indeed a former GOP lawmaker with a law degree calls the A.G.'s intervention, "brilliant."

Mr. Schuette gets political points for siding with the underdog and even if he loses, he wins for standing up for them which is more than the governor has done.

Now no one can prove there was any political motivation behind the Schuette decision as he defends, "Michigan seniors living on fixed incomes and anticipating a safe and secure retirement after a lifetime of work."

But it should be noted that the decision came three days after a very unflattering piece appeared in the Detroit News as Democrats called on the A.G. to get in the game.  And now he is.

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