Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has become the poster governor for coronavirus nanny statism. Given the early outbreak of the virus in Detroit it was reasonable, in my view, for Whitmer to impose a temporary lockdown on at least part of the state.
However, her orders regarding which activities she would and would not permit — particularly her orders on fishing, boating, and vacations homes — seemed quite arbitrary. And the way she responded to criticism rubbed some the wrong way.
Prior to Memorial Day weekend, Whitmer finally announced she would lift some business and travel restrictions on Northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, where there are many vacation destinations and fewer coronavirus cases than in other areas of the state. At the same time, Whitmer urged Michiganders not to rush to the region.
But Whitmer’s husband, Marc Mallory, was in a rush. According to Tad Dowker, owner of a dock on the north shore, Mallory asked about getting his boat into the water before the beginning of Memorial Day weekend.
Dowker says his office advised Mallory there was no chance of this happening. Mallory reportedly responded by asking, “I am the husband to the governor, will this make a difference?”
Initially, Whitmer’s office would neither confirm nor deny this report. Now, however, the governor herself has confirmed that Mallory mentioned he was her husband and asked whether this would help him get his boat in the water before the weekend.
Whitmer claims, though, that her husband was just joking. She says the controversy was the result of “a failed attempt at humor.”
Was Mallory joking? Possibly. But Whitmer admits there was nothing funny about her husband’s comment, and it’s not the kind of remark a normal person would make if he just wanted to be amusing. Moreover, when the governor urges citizens not to rush to the state’s lakes, her husband shouldn’t be leading the charge to get to there.
When we read about events like Chris Cuomo and George Stephanopoulus knocking around the Hamptons despite being infected and Dr. Neil Ferguson violating social distancing policy by entertaining his lover, it becomes hard to resist the impression that members of the elite believe they have special privileges in this pandemic. Whitmer’s husband has added to that impression.