The danger of being too much of a yes man

Josh Marshall writes how Republican Georgia governor Brian Kemp was rebuked by Donald Trump for licking his boots too vigorously, something I would not have thought possible. Trump has been saying that the country should start re-opening soon and no doubt Kemp thought that he could curry favor with trump by being the first to do so. But it backfired.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has been outstripping the sizable competition in the race to become President Donald Trump’s biggest, and most thoroughly rejected, flunky.

On Monday he mounted his flashiest maneuver yet, announcing that he would fling wide the doors of the state’s gyms, nail salons, barbershops, bowling alleys — bowling alleys — by the end of the week, about three laps ahead of even the cadre of his fellow Trumpy governors.

But Kemp was left alone on the front porch, clutching his boutonniere, as Trump slammed the front door in his face.

“Would I do that? No. I’d keep them a little longer,” the President said of the social distancing guidelines at his Wednesday press briefing. “I want to protect people’s lives.”

“I’m going to let him make his decision,” he added, of Kemp. “But I told him I totally disagree.”

Apparently Trump’s task force members had told him that they would not support Kemp’s move.

In a meeting also reported by CNN, they decided that they would not publicly support the reopening.

Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx, whose mannerisms Trump finds “elegant,” was dispatched to change the President’s mind. Trump, never one to agonize much over changing his loyalties, agreed to denounce Kemp at the presser.

And now, Kemp is an island, a man alone, as the moment on Friday approaches when massive swaths of the Georgia economy get the greenlight to open — plus another wave of restaurants and movie theaters Monday.

If Georgians do in fact choose to go back to work — they might not — health experts warn that transmission will likely spike, and Georgians could die or fall sick at a far faster rate.

But Kemp can rest easy in the knowledge that it was all in the name of winning the President’s favor, as he brushes the bus tire tracks off his back.

Kemp’s choices for what should be opened are puzzling. Bowling alleys, although not essential, presumably at least do not require any contact with one another though people may be touching the same surfaces. I have never been to a bowling alley in my life and have no idea how much contact is involved.

Nail salons, barbers, and tattoo parlors are hardly essential services either and all of them require people to be in very close proximity and even in contact with each other. I myself am way overdue for a haircut but even if its length reaches the stage where some might feel the need to adopt the aging hipster look of wearing a pony tail, that hardly constitutes sufficient reason to risk contracting the virus.

Kemp went ahead with his move to start opening things yesterday, despite warnings not to from health experts and some of the city mayors. But not all the owners of the business that were allowed to open did so, with many fearing that it was too soon to risk the lives of themselves, their employees, and their customers.


  1. Ridana says

    Hair Corona will never kick a dog for licking his boots too vigorously. That just won’t happen. However, Shrimp has learned that no matter how vigorously you lick his boots, it will not save you from being a scapegoat whenever he needs one. And once he’s chosen you for that role, you can keep licking if you want, and he won’t stop you, but you’ll be lucky if he acknowledges that he ever knew who you were. Gov* Klink is dancing on the edge of “he’s probably a nice guy, but I never met him, don’t know him” territory.

    As for bowling alleys, it’s not just the balls (ha ha get it out of your system now), which I suppose could be sanitized between rentals, though people will probably not be scrupulous about cross-contamination during the game and it can be easy to mistake which ball is yours. People even share them. Most people rent shoes too, and I think those would be harder to disinfect. Plus, if you have more than three people playing, it’s hard to maintain distance, and unless they close off every other lane, you’ll be back to back with other groups. Bowling alleys are not safe spaces. And if they provide child care, as some do, those tend to be worse petri dishes than schools.

    The main reason they’re doing this is to get people off the unemployment rolls. If a business decides to reopen, their employees no longer have a choice about going back to work, unless they can get by without unemployment or PPP money. Given the types of businesses he’s opening, few employees can afford to refuse, and he’s forbidden local governments from overriding his order. So customers may not come, but a lot of people will be forced back to work anyway.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I’ve been wondering about what @Ridana said as well. Surely many people who don’t have to go out will continue hunkering in place if they know what’s good for them. So if I run a restaurant, which is worse — staying closed and losing money, or opening up and having to pay all my employees for just half or a quarter of my normal customer load? Is a sluggish economy really better than none at all?

  3. Don F says

    I would have suggested using a clipper to trim your own hair like I’ve done all these years since cutting my ponytail off, but they’re apparently in short supply now.

  4. johnson catman says

    Don F @4: I have been cutting my own hair for over 30 years. I wore out one Wahl clipper, so last time, I bought a professional one from a barber supply store. It will probably outlive me. My hair doesn’t require anything fancy, so I use a #8 (1″) attachment on my hair and a #4 (1/2″) on my beard. Then trim my mustache and around the ears and I am done. It takes me about 15 minutes. I shave my neck front and back in the shower. I have saved WAY more over the years than the $50 that the clipper cost me.

  5. jrkrideau says

    I am waiting for Trump to deny any knowledge of Bolsonaro, probably just about the time Bolsonaro is appealing for political asylum.

    I have been in three or four bowling allys, both 5-pin & 10 pin. I recommend you avoid them.

  6. Ridana says

    2) @brucegee1962
    I’m not entirely clear on how sweeping his order is. Does a restaurant or bowling alley or tattoo parlor have the option to remain closed? Of course he can’t force them to reopen, but if they’re “permitted” to, and they don’t, do they then forfeit any PPP money they were eligible for to keep their employees paid?

  7. Dr Sarah says

    My one and only PSA on the subject of DIY haircuts: If you spread a towel out in order to catch the cut hairs, shake that out thoroughly somewhere safe before throwing it in with the rest of the wash, unless you want to spend way too long later on picking hairs out of your clean laundry.

  8. Dunc says

    It’s a minor, inconsequential point, but it niggles… Nobody clutches a boutonnière. It’s physically impossible to clutch a boutonnière. It seems like the author must have been casting around for a word like “bouquet”, but fancier, and settled on “boutonnière” without really knowing what it meant.

    DIY haircuts: do it over newspaper, not a towel.

  9. lorn says

    Typical Trump double-speak, He both for, and against, states opening up. He had both encouraged and discouraged Kemp. It is a fine way of always being ‘right’. If Georgia opens up and the virus cases don’t spike Trump will claim to be the father of the victory saving the economy. Count on it. Kemp will barely get a mention. OTOH if it goes south big-time Trump will cite his objections. He will be the hero who was trying to protect the poor. Bankers, and Kemp, be damned.

    Trump’s gambit trying to head-fake the Democratic governors in swing states into opening early by cruel Tweeting and egging on Teaparty for-hire demonstrations failed. The plan was they would take the risk and Trump would blame them if it blew up, or take credit if it worked, depending how it went. This was going to be a coup for him, a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose deal in critically important swing states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia.

    Instead the first states to open, and take the risk are: Georgia, Alaska, and Oklahoma. All are firmly Republican, Trump won big in 2016, with GOP Governors. Georgia is already getting pounded pretty hard by the Trump virus. Oklahoma and Alaska seem to be still brewing up. The coincidence of existing peak coming and additional people brought on by premature opening could get very ugly. It isn’t like there was going to be any excess hospital or resource capacity before opening.

    I hate playing politics with lives on the line but if the goal is a Democratic win trading Oklahoma, Alaska, and Georgia for Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota seems like a favorable deal.

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