I’ve noted a couple of times this year our local papers’ dislike of strong Democratic women. In March, as the coronavirus spread exponentially, our local Ogden papers singled out Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, for special criticism. Since then, we’ve had two Mike Myer columns and at least six editorial cartoons with the governor as target. Today, our local editor adds another column to the list as his title suggests:
Ensure We Never Have A Whitmer in West Virginia
Myer starts by telling us that, given her reactions to the pandemic,
“many of us in the “Mountaineers Always Free” state would not want her as governor.
From here, Myer repeats some of the lies he told in his two previous attacks on Whitmer – for instance, that you could not canoe or buy paint under her orders. (See here and here for why those assertions are incorrect.) He then adds a couple of new lies:
By June 12, when we in the Mountain State had been allowed to go shopping for weeks, Whitmer still required Michiganders to do so by appointment only. In early June, she relaxed her earlier ban on gatherings of people, allowing them for 10 or fewer individuals. By then, Justice was permitting crowds of 100 here.
Myer is wrong again as the Detroit Free Press documented on June 1. That article noted that store appointments would no longer be required (in three days) and that, effective immediately, limits on crowd size only applied indoors:
• Retailers can reopen to customers without an appointment on Thursday, with capacity limits.
• Restaurants can offer dine-in service starting June 8, with capacity limits. . . .
• Effective immediately, groups of up to 100 can gather outside with social distancing, up from a threshold of 10. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 10.
Perhaps more importantly, Myer is comparing a sparsely populated state (WV) with a state (MI) whose southern third is densely populated. That’s an unfair comparison when discussing the spread of a virus: as other highly populated areas demonstrated early-on, the virus can spread rapidly through such populations and they clearly require different counter-measures.
Given that Myer considers Whitmer’s response to the virus to be terrible, you would expect that Whitmer’s approval rating would not be very good. That is not what the polls suggest. From a recent EPIC survey of likely voters:
The majority of Michiganders give Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a positive rating for how she’s handling the coronavirus pandemic, a new EPIC-MRA survey of likely voters shows. . . .
When it comes to the pandemic, 60% of those surveyed approved of Whitmer’s response. President Donald Trump earned a 41% approval rating for his response to the pandemic, with 58% of those polled giving him a negative rating.
Another poll found similar results:
- Approval rating of governor handling COVID-19 response: 63%
- Approval rating of Trump handling COVID-19 response: 36%
And as for the protests against her coronavirus restrictions (for which I assume Myer would agree), the New York Times last week cited a Times/Siena poll:
A high-profile clash with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan encapsulates the president’s challenge. Mr. Trump sided with protesters who opposed her stay-at-home orders, but voters in the state oppose the protests against social distancing restrictions by 57 percent to 37 percent.
I think Whitmer clearly saw the problem and did what her constituents wanted her to do -- so what is the problem?
Myer’s premise for the article is that we ought to be glad that Whitmer is not our governor. But that assumes that if she were governor of West Virginia, that she would take the same approach that she has in Michigan. We don’t know that, however. A good governor develops policies that meet the particular needs of the state they are governing. Michigan clearly faced much more difficult challenges than West Virginia and, as I’ve noted, Whitmer met them to the satisfaction of her constituents. My hunch is that had she been governor of West Virginia, she would have responded differently -- perhaps, not unlike Governor Justice, with less restriction on the citizenry.
This gets me to a larger question – why was this column written? If Myer wanted to criticize Democratic governors who have placed restrictions upon their constituents during the pandemic, he certainly had additional governors he could have added -- New York’s Cuomo and Washington’s Inslee quickly come to mind. Both have also criticized the president’s coronavirus policies yet neither has been singled out by the locals for special attention as Whitmer has.
It appears that our local papers have a problem with assertive (“nasty” to use the president’s term) Democratic women*. In the years leading up to the 2016 presidential elections, attacks on Hillary Clinton were a fixture on Ogden’s editorial pages. (Even after Trump’s victory, she managed to get her share of editorial comment.) Clinton was finally dropped when female replacements, in the form of Democratic congresswomen (“the squad”), took her place. With this third column and at least a half-dozen editorial cartoons, Whitmer is clearly the new target and will likely continue to be until Joe Biden picks his female running mate.
Our local editor periodically calls for a frank discussion on racism. Maybe when we finish that one, we could have one on sexism.
*Republican women are apparently okay with Ogden -- especially when they are senators who never make waves and support the president 95% of the time.
By the way, “that woman from Michigan” in the title is what Trump called Whitmer in March.
Found this poll after I published: