By Eric Valentine
When the cat’s away the mice will play. And that’s essentially what happened last week when Idaho governor Brad Little took what turned out to be a big trip out of state to attend the Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville.
As the state constitution dictates, when the sitting governor steps out of state, the lieutenant governor steps in. So for a short period of time Janice McGeachin was the Gem State’s supreme leader, and she swiftly removed the tyrannical veil we’ve all been living under the past year by mandating no more mask mandates because mandates don’t work—except in hospitals, so her executive order decreed, more or less.
I’m not even going to bother mansplaining Little’s point of view versus McGeachin’s point of view. We’ve heard all versions of all sides and it’s the only thing we’re more sick of than actually wearing our masks, which the CDC—more than a week before McGeachin’s order—said we don’t need to do anymore if we’ve been vaccinated.
What I am going to do, as an experienced writer and fan of good writing, is analyze the sheer genius of Little’s public statement on the matter. Kudos to whomever penned it. <–That’s not a knock on the governor, as I’m certain some of it came directly from him. However, anything released out of a politician’s office had several folks at least tweak it. Or, at least it should have.
Slap in the face
Little opens his message by stating that “we could talk ’til we’re blue in the face” about masks. You have to give credit to both his wit (blue, as in liberal?) and sense of mask metaphor (masks go on the face), and he softens it with a Mozart-esque use of a contraction (’til rather than until). Well played, sir.
“An executive order that was issued while I was out of state this week runs contrary to a basic conservative principle—the government closest to the people governs best,” Little (et al.?) wrote. It’s a polite way of calling his lieutenant governor misguided at best and a hypocrite at worst. Now, as someone who does not self-identify as conservative, I need to point out there are myriad problems with this neither liberal nor conservative principle of local control. Jim Crow laws and slavery were local control. So, we should wave the “governs best” flag on a case by case basis, rather than axiomatically. Otherwise, we can sometimes be far worse than just hypocritical. And if you don’t buy that, consider how you’d feel if your local city council banned AR-15s. You may want to resort to federal law then.
It’s the law, stupid
At one point in the message, Little runs down some of the practical and legal reasons McGeachin’s executive order doesn’t pass muster. And then delivers the line, “This is why you do your homework, Lt. Governor.” [Insert boom GIF here.] Talk about calling someone stupid without calling them stupid … wow.
No stunts stunt
Finally, Little wraps up his message by denouncing the use of position (like a three-day stint as state governor) to carry out a political stunt. And then promptly spends the next three paragraphs or so giving examples of how—at least in his eyes—he has helped make the state a great place to live.
Little’s message shows he’s not beneath petty politics after all, but that when forced to react, he can go big and at least appear as though he’s being the bigger person who’s above it all.