I wouldn’t have Gov. Brian Kemp’s job. That’s a good thing because, to my knowledge, no one has offered the job to me. I have had readers in the past who suggested I run for public office, but I politely declined because the Woman Who Shares My Name would take a skillet to my head if I decided to do so. She isn’t crazy about politics, except she loved our recently retired senior senator, Johnny Isakson. That is because he made a big fuss over her and pretty much ignored me. Smart man.
However, the awesome responsibilities invested in me as a modest and much-beloved columnist requires I assist our political leaders in the discharge of their sworn duties to the greatest extent possible. To not do so would be unpatriotic. Plus, I would have to think up other stuff to write about, like the International Monetary Fund or ice hockey, neither of which I know much about — nor care.
When the governor was running to be governor, in his television ads he made it clear to some little dweeb named Jake who had the temerity to want to date his daughter that he had a shotgun and knew how to use it. I know it was just an ad but that is a good way to make your daughter an old maid. He also showed off a pickup truck he was going to use to round up illegal aliens and a chainsaw to “rip up government regulations.”
What he didn’t show us in those days was how he was going to handle one of the mostly deadly pandemics to ever hit our state. Brian Kemp didn’t know it was coming. None of us did. Stow the cornpone. The coronavirus is immune to shotguns, pickup trucks and chainsaws. It is time for leadership.
One of the first things I would suggest the governor do is tell his chief of staff, Tim Fleming, to stick a sock in his Facebook postings. Chiefs of staff should be seen, not heard. The last I looked, Fleming and I have something in common: Neither of us is the governor and in these unprecedented times, Gov. Kemp doesn’t need his chief of staff taking potshots at local officials at the city and county level who are doing their damnedest to protect their citizens.
Fleming blasted local governments for overreacting to the coronavirus outbreak by enacting tougher restrictions than those that had been called for at the time by the governor. That’s all we need in these dark days, a second-guessing attack dog.
I know a bit about attack dogs. I was a pretty good one in my day. There are those who say I still am. (I probably should put a warning label on these columns.) But this is neither the time nor place for that kind of thing.
If that wasn’t enough, faux-Gov. Fleming issued another directive: “Georgia” — I think he means you and me — “go to the beach, lake or a state park! They are all open and despite what the media is reporting there have been no issues on Georgia beaches or lakes today.” What about next week, Tim? Or, the week after?
The mayor of Tybee Island, Shirley Sessions, called the governor’s actions “reckless.” State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-Brunswick, said, “I’m scratching my head after this decision. Maybe the governor should have sought the opinion of local representatives.”
Friends on St. Simons Island tell me the understaffed Georgia State Patrol has been seen manning the entrances to the beach. Isn’t there a better utilization of the GSP resources, like slowing down idiot speeders on our Interstates instead of babysitting beachgoers?
Fleming should spend less time acting like the governor and more time keeping his boss from being blindsided as happened when Gov. Kemp told a news briefing and a statewide television audience that he had just found out “in the last 24 hours” that asymptomatic people could spread the virus, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had warned as early as mid-February that, yes indeed, the coronavirus could be spread by asymptomatic people. That got the governor headlines he didn’t want or need.
I like Brian Kemp personally. I know him to be a good man. He, like the rest of us, is in uncharted waters. As he attempts to guide us through this pandemic, he doesn’t need a shotgun, a pickup truck, a chainsaw or a mouthy chief of staff. He needs our prayers.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at email@example.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb