Governor Ralph Northam has been taking his lumps, especially from critics on this blog, for his performance in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
He’s been described as inept, incompetent, unresponsive and, incredibly, as potentially dictatorial.
What is indeed curious is that while Northam was slow to get moving on virus issues, he has gotten rave reviews from the public, at least according to one poll.
More than three quarters of those contacted, 76%, approve of how Northam is handling the coronavirus crisis, according to a statewide poll conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Of those, 40% have replied that they “strongly approve” of Northam’s performance. The approval ratings cross party lines, the poll reports, with the highest overall approval ratings being in Hampton Roads.
Regionally, Northam seems to score behind Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican governor, who has drawn national attention for his pro-active measures to combat the disease.
Hogan, Northam, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper have all been in daily contact regarding how to proceed in an organized way to deal with medical equipment shortages, COVID-19 hotspots and plans to restart economies.
Although not as tightly organized, the group mirrors to some extent the pact of seven Northeastern states led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do the same.
A similar effort is being coordinated on the West Coast by Calf. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee.
One reason for the regional pacts is the absence of leadership by President Donald Trump. As Bacon’s Rebellion bloggers and commenters complain that Northam’s social-distancing rules are a fascist attempt to close beaches, Trump is actually making real sounds about dictatorship.
This week, he proclaimed that when it comes to reopening the economy his authority is “total.” He backed off when shouted down by various governors. Then he came up with the juvenile statement: “Tell those Democratic governors that ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ was one of my favorite movies.” (Note that he mentions the movie, not the novel.)
The point here is that is the right, if not the duty, to oversee Northam and criticize him when needed. It is not to keep raising refutable claims of incompetence or authoritarianism.
One regrettable blog posting on B.R. this week was not just silly but irresponsible. The author complained that Northam was crossing civil liberties by advocating social-distancing, which has been repeatedly regarded by experts as a successful way to combat COVID-19.
I don’t see Northam as trampling on anything. If there is a gas leak at a chemical plant, the police have every right to cordon it off for public safety.
What does cross the line in a big way is having police turn away cars with out-of-state plates at state borders as Rhode Island and Texas have done. Virginia has done nothing of the sort, but I am sure that eventually some will falsely claim that Northam has.There are currently no comments highlighted.