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Governors and Presidents usually start thinking about their legacies as their terms near the end.

Mike Easley should start thinking. Because his legacy is at risk.

The Governor has been roundly criticized for not mentioning the Jim Black scandal in his State of the State address.

Perhaps he should have begun:

“Tonight, members of the Senate and House, I report to you that the state of our state is – corrupt!”

You can understand why Easley didn’t take the bat off his shoulder. Especially after some articles called Black his “right-hand man.”

But the Governor missed a golden opportunity.

Easley is capable of making a compelling – even moving – speech. He should have turned that skill to denouncing the crime, defining the problem and dedicating himself to cleaning up the stables before he leaves Raleigh.

After all, this is a man who made his mark as a corruption-busting DA.

On today’s market, here’s what will be written about Easley when he leaves office in two years:

  • He was a hands-off executive, far less aggressive than Jim Hunt.

  • His main achievement was the lottery, which contributed to the biggest state-government scandal in history.

Easley could have started changing that story line Monday night. But he didn’t.

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