Everyone in Rock Island County will have seen Bruce Rauner's white flag by now. 

Illinois' Republican governor is making full use of the General Assembly's spring break. Twice in the past week, Rauner has traveled to the Quad-Cities, signaled defeat on policy and launched a frontal assault on political opponents with an eye toward November 2018.

On paper, the two gubernatorial visits were fundamentally different. But in each instance, Rauner's rhetoric made sealing an already-illusive budget deal in Illinois just a little less likely.

Last week's appearance in Rock Island was a campaign stop, funded by his war chest and political supporters. Monday's speech was an official visit to Moline, thanks to an invite from Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce. 

But the dissimilarities between the two visits end there.

In each, he blasted General Assembly Democrats at large.

"It's a culture shock for the General Assembly," he said, when speaking about his reticence to increase income taxes without sweeping changes to state operations.

In each, he blasted Democrats for what he says is a refusal to compromise on his pet issues. In each, he singled out House Speaker Michael Madigan and House Democrats.

"Madigan's Democrats blocked every reform that could solve the problem," Rauner told chamber members on Monday. 

In each, he gave back-handed praise to Senate Democrats for good-faith negotiations that are the best hope of ending the impasse after two long years.

Rauner "applauds" the work spearheaded by Senate Democrats on a massive would-be budgetary package but immediately quipped, "they're not friendly to business, to put it mildly."

Comically, Rauner blamed the media for a narrative that, through his actions moments before, he reinforced.

"The media likes to write, 'Well, Brucey and Mikey hate each other," he said without any semblance of irony. 

It's become increasingly clear that Rauner's only interest is in winning political battles. Through his rhetoric, he's all but admitted defeat on the policy end. Consensus isn't built through rhetorical bomb throwing. Now, it's about pointing fingers for the historic levels of failure.

Illinois seems doomed to trundle along with plunging credit ratings, spiking costs and soaring debt until, at the very least, after the election in November 2018.

Rauner's not out there building consensus. He's not engaging in constructive dialogue. He's campaigning, plain and simple. And that's true whether it's dark money or Illinois' taxpayers footing the bill.

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Rauner isn't incorrect about many of the structural failings that are sinking Illinois. Its pension is a dumpster fire. Its largest public employees union holds far too much sway. He rightly backed away from some of his most extreme campaign promises when they immediately proved too divisive and politically unworkable. But throughout his more than two years in office, Rauner has yet to prove that he can bring about the necessary changes that Illinois needs.

Political ineptitude might be his greatest failing. Maybe he should spend more time on policy and less on bankrolling Republican propaganda posing as a newspaper. 

Last month, Senate Democrats blamed Rauner for "interjecting himself" into ongoing budget negotiations that eroded GOP support for the Grand Bargain. A governor should be, at some level, engaged in budgetary negotiations. But Rauner punted on that duty earlier this year when his budget address was little but partisan sniping.

Rauner twice visited the Quad-Cities in the past week. He twice reiterated well-worn talking points. He twice pinned the blame for Illinois' failures on the other side of the aisle. 

At some point, the bluster becomes destructive. It's little but positioning for a re-election bid.

Rauner offered one piece of wisdom Monday.

"I tell these folks every day, let's not think about the next election," he said. "Let's think about the future of Illinois."

If only Rauner took his own advice. 

Local editorials represent the opinion of the Quad-City Times editorial board, which consists of Publisher Deb Anselm, Executive Editor Autumn Phillips, Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander, City Editor Dan Bowerman, Associate Editor Bill Wundram and community representative John Wetzel. 

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