Rantz: As economy lags, Inslee hits coronavirus critics with sleazy attack

May 6, 2020, 8:43 PM | Updated: May 7, 2020, 10:26 am
inslee, coronavirus economy...
Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday, May 1. (TVW)

As we grow desperate over the lagging coronavirus economy, rather than respond with compassion, Governor Jay Inslee deflects with a sleazy strategy of shaming people into submission. This is not the move of a competent leader. It’s the move of a shaky one.

At a press briefing Monday afternoon, Inslee was asked about a lawsuit leveled against him by a group of Republican lawmakers. They contend the stay-at-home order is too restrictive and that we can safely and responsibly reopen parts of the economy faster.

Rather than tell us why he thinks public health data makes a stronger case to keep the economy shut down, Inslee attacks his critics as heartless. He argues they want to see people die.

This tactic isn’t just offensively dismissive of the people whose livelihoods are on the line. It’s sleazy.

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Reopen the economy during coronavirus? You’re a monster

Inslee began his criticism of the lawsuit saying it’s “not only shortsighted, but dangerous.” This is subjective, of course, but a reasonable response if you can back it up.

At a time when unemployment is skyrocketing, businesses are crumbling, and more and more Washingtonians are begging for help, you need to explain precisely what data you see for delaying a responsible phasing-in of more businesses.

Instead of providing data, Inslee merely says “data” and “science” hoping we’ll confuse the words for actual data and science. And showing us some cartoon images of dials isn’t data.

Inslee has no response to why some small businesses can’t open up safely. Instead, he attempts to shame any of you into thinking about going back to work. Care about the economy during the coronavirus pandemic? You’re a monster, apparently.

[The politicians suing] are not compliant with the science that is very clear on this. That if we, today, released all of our efforts, if we stopped in our tracks halfway through this effort, or two thirds through this effort, this virus is going to come back with a vengeance and apparently as politicians, as far as I can tell, that doesn’t bother them too much.

This is a petulant, bad-faith response to good faith concerns; an attempt to villainize political opponents Inslee spends too little time even talking to, let alone understanding. To imply the plaintiffs, or any of us, aren’t bothered by a virus coming back “with a vengeance” is cheap.

Debating a claim no one is making

His Republican opponents aren’t trying to stop reasonable and responsible mitigation efforts. Literally none of those politicians are asking the Governor to release all our efforts. Inslee wants you to believe Republicans want to pull off face masks and fill-up CenturyLink for a Seahawks game while sharing high fives and hugs after a touchdown. The only way he can win is to create a straw-man argument, again citing “science” he won’t divulge.

Most people find it reasonable to reopen a print shop where you email images to be printed, then pick up in person or curbside. Most understand there’s little danger to letting a nail salon open up when everyone’s wearing masks — especially since you very easily install freestanding plastic barriers (think “sneeze guards”) between the customer and the staffer. House cleaning services pose no more risk today than it would in a month; they’re literally working to make it safer.

And since folks find the reopen arguments reasonable, Inslee pretends Republican lawmakers are demanding more than they are. What’s worse, he positions himself as some kind of compassionate hero that values life.

Inslee thinks he’s a hero. He’s not

Inslee wants you to know he values life. He reminds us of it constantly. You see, only his side is right, moral, and just.

When you see the tears of the families who have lost 800 people … I think you reach a different conclusion. The 41-year-old bus driver that was lost, the reverend in Eastern Washington. By the way, it’s not just those the people who lose their lives it’s their families that lose them. That’s a loss to those that remain of all ages and I’ve heard some of this talk that 60-year-olds just don’t count in our society.

Governor, if you’re going to exploit the tragic deaths of those lost to the coronavirus, you might want to learn their names so they seem less like props you’re using in another performance. That 41-year-old bus driver was Scott Ryan. And the reverend who passed away was Andrea Bowman. Remember their names for your next speech.

Another coronavirus straw-man argument

Who in the world is saying that 60-year-olds aren’t deserving of life? What conversations are you having? Given you don’t leave your echo chamber, it’s either someone in your circle or you’ve just made it up.

The argument that I’ve heard is that if you’re at a higher risk of mortality, 60+, you should make an effort to shelter-in-place while others less at-risk safely and responsibly return to work. That’s a position that supports and protects 60-year-olds, not diminishes their value.

Inslee isn’t the hero he wants you to believe he is. He is a political coward angry people might question his authority, a leader who deflects questions he doesn’t like, while avoiding scenarios where he might be pressed. You will never find him debating me, Todd Herman, or Dori Monson.

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Health and economy matter during coronavirus pandemic

We can care deeply about the health and well-being of all our neighbors. I care as much about the families of those who lost a battle to the coronavirus as I do my friends who have been directly impacted. I have concern for the 24-year-old with diabetes who may face dangerous complications due to the coronavirus. And I empathize about a 72-year-old who is frightened of the virus.

But I also care about the 787,533 individuals who have, so far, applied for unemployment benefits in this coronavirus economy. I care about the hundreds of hospitality workers let go from Ivar’s and Tom Douglas Restaurants and countless other restaurants. I care about the restaurant owners who fear they may never open up their doors again.

I care about Lauren Konieczny, owner of Priority Beauty Bar in Puyallup. She and her staff are desperate to get back to work. I care about Jimmy McCurry, owner of Progressive Performance Gym in Woodinville. He and other fitness professionals feel they can operate safely while also helping out the community get healthy — which makes them less susceptible to the virus.

Governor Inslee: We can care about the health and safety while also caring for our economic well-being. It’s possible to care about both; it’s reasonable to care about both. To cast aside the desperate pleas of people in economic desperation, claiming they just simply don’t care as much about life as you do, is lazy. It’s ghoulish. It shows you’re not the leader you think you are. We won’t be shamed into submission.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

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Rantz: As economy lags, Inslee hits coronavirus critics with sleazy attack