Gov. Lee's Idea of Leadership

Gov. Bill Lee in January

Y’all, I am out here trying to be a voice of reason, telling folks that you have to choose one: stupid or evil. But alas, as any member of the media can tell you, for all the abuse we take for ruining the culture, we have a very limited ability to change minds. I can tell you to get vaccinated, I can tell you to choose evil or stupid, but I have yet to see any evidence that Tennesseans are taking my advice.

I have been laughing so hard at Gov. Bill Lee having to send out an actual letter to lawmakers assuring them that he is not having farmers vaccinate their cows against COVID so that the meat-eaters among us will end up inoculated whether we choose to be or not.

Much about this is hilarious. I would love to see any indication that the governor understands that COVID is a problem and that people need to get vaccinated. But I guess all this time his general indifference to the welfare of this state was just a cover for an overly complicated plan that could not possibly work if you thought about it for longer than three seconds. First of all there are only about 20 slaughterhouses in Tennessee. Cows raised in Tennessee aren’t always slaughtered in Tennessee, and cows slaughtered here aren’t necessarily sold here. Even if COVID inoculations in cows could somehow grant meat-eaters some level of COVID immunity (they wouldn't), this imaginary plan would end up inoculating people in the distribution chain, not solely within Tennessee. Oh my God! Did I just figure out that Lee’s plan goes deeper? He’s trying to vaccinate everyone in the middle of the country! My God, he’s Joe Biden 2.0.

Quick, disrupt a school board meeting before it’s too late!

Whew, I make myself laugh.

But y’all, that’s not even the funniest part. The funniest part is that the letter went to lawmakers! The people who run our state, who are supposed to be smart enough to understand our problems and write the laws necessary to fix them. The people who are presumably working closely with Gov. Lee to enact a Republican agenda. How are we at the point where the legislative branch of the state is not sure whether the executive branch of the state is some kind of 1960s Batman villain and the governor has to write them a letter assuring them that he is not?

Let’s just try to imagine this from the other direction. If I wrote my state representative, Vincent Dixie, or my state senator, Brenda Gilmore, and I said that I heard Gov. Lee was giving the cows a concoction to make me live longer without my consent and against my will and what were they going to do about it, I could imagine them ignoring my note or possibly answering in the most generic, least committal way possible. If they recognize my name, they might contact the Scene and ask Patrick if anyone’s checked on me in person recently, just to make sure I’m not living in an aluminum foil tent in my front room. Or maybe they would share it with Gov. Lee’s office for a laugh.

I feel completely confident that they would not think the whole thing was plausible enough to warrant forwarding Lee the letter and saying he needs to address this.

And yet Republicans live in the alternate reality where, contrary to all evidence, maybe, just maybe, the governor is plotting against unvaccinated Tennesseans. And Republican legislators either aren’t sure themselves or believe that they can somehow ride out this wave of paranoia as long as they never make the paranoid feel challenged. This is a really bad situation for our state to be in.

But it’s kind of an untenable position for Republicans in this state to be in. If Republican voters are supposed to vote for you because everyone is out to get them and only you will stand up for their values, but everyone with any power in Tennessee is also Republican, that means other Republicans must be out to get Republican voters. They must be secret leftists only pretending to be Republican.

If the Republican Party is full of secret leftists, and the Democratic Party is full of not-secret leftists, who are Republican voters supposed to vote for?

But chasing those paranoid voters means alienating the non-paranoid voters. We all saw the bonkers school board meeting down in Williamson County. How many people in those videos do you think were Democrats? It’s Williamson County. Not that many.

Meaning, this is Republican infighting.

Meaning as much as those of us who aren’t Republican feel held hostage by this nonsense, it’s up to Republican leadership to fix it. And so far none of them seems to be rising to the challenge.

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