I am going to get some blowback on this but that’s OK. Trouble is my middle name. (Actually, Richard is my middle name but that is a story for another day.) I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that while I did not envy Gov. Brian Kemp having to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, I disapproved of his chief of staff running off at the mouth and acting like he is, in fact, the governor. I also said I didn’t like the Georgia State Patrol having to babysit beachgoers when we could use them on our highways trying to slow down idiot drivers and that local authorities didn’t want the beaches opened in the first place.
One reader took strong exception to the article, calling it a puff piece for the governor and said I had done a “dangerous and uninformed thing.” (She should see me swing at a golf ball.) I don’t think the governor or the faux-governor considered the column flattering. Besides, the only puff pieces I write are about the University of Georgia, Cameron Charles Yarbrough and the Gaithers.
Anyway, here I am caught in the middle again. On Monday, Gov. Kemp authorized the reopening of bowling alleys and tattoo parlors, (an essential business if I ever saw one) and nail salons, hair designers (whatever that is), massage therapists, barbershops and gyms this coming Friday. Next Monday, dine-in restaurants and movie theaters will be allowed to reopen.
His orders have not met with universal acclaim. Bo Dorough, the mayor of Albany, which has been extremely hard hit by the virus, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the governor’s decision was “irresponsible.” Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was “baffled” by Kemp’s announcement and that she would continue to tell her constituents to stay home.
An AJC editorial criticized the governor for moving “too soon and confusing citizens. He is risking a resurgence of the coronavirus in our state.” I’ll bet they can expect a broadside from the faux-governor/chief of staff. If they do hear from him, they should be honored. I haven’t hear a peep from him myself.
So, now comes the debate. Did the governor do the right thing the right way and at the right time? Should he have waited until more testing was done? Will Georgians show the proper restraint he is counting on us to do? Will I be called “dangerous and uninformed?” All of this is for us Georgians to decide. Our state, our issues.
What I don’t need is for some Damn Yankee who likely has never ventured outside New York City to call our governor “Front-Runner for Country’s Dumbest Governor,” accompanied by a totally unflattering photograph just to drive home their point in case we are too dumb to get it.
Maybe his decisions were questionable, but our governor is not dumb. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia. That case is closed. I would call the writer “Front-Runner for Typically Biased Southern Condescension.” I strongly suspect she would rate any governor in the Deep South as dumb.
Nothing raises my hackles more than being condescended to because I am a Son of the South. I don’t like that. I dealt with the national media for more than half my career. Many of them were like the Vanity Unfair observer. They considered us a bunch of yokels sans sophistication.
This is an I-Swear-to-You-Know-Who story: I was a member of an advisory committee at the United States Military Academy at West Point. During a luncheon following our meeting and before an Army football game, a prominent publisher of one of the most well-known newspapers in the country (one guess) was talking to me about our planning for the Centennial Olympic Games. In our conversation, it became obvious he thought participants in the Olympic rafting competition on the Ocoee River in Tennessee would compete on rubber tires. After all, isn’t that how one rafts? And we are dumb?
Truth in advertising: The Woman Who Shares My Name was born in New Jersey and her cousins were Long Islanders. I loved them all. But they knew better than to make fun of how I talk or to say anything derogatory about the Great State of Georgia.
As for what the governor has done, I am not sure I agree but he has more information than I do and this is what he has decided to do. As for me, he can reopen all the tattoo shops and bowling alleys he wants, but I’m not leaving the house until I feel safe and I don’t feel safe yet. Not even close. But I don’t need a snide assessment of our governor from some arrogant ignoramus at Vanity Fair. One of my daddy’s favorite admonitions was: Consider the source. I have and she’s not worth another word, so I am through.