Why Bad Mouth Neanderthals?
President Biden has called those governors who have lifted covid restrictions such as mask mandates as using “Neanderthal thinking.” Why give our ancestors a bad rap? From what I have read, Neanderthals were pretty clever and what’s more there’s a fair amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genes. Calling Governor Greg Abbott Neanderthal gives Neanderthals a bad name.
In countless ways over many years, Governor Abbott has shown himself to be a feckless and shallow leader either unwilling or unable to truly lead. This has been true in hurricane season, during the cold snap that brought Texas to its knees, and now in his lack of leadership during the pandemic. Just as it seems that the mitigation strategies urged by the federal government and the roll out of the vaccination program are actually starting to cut into the hold that covid has on us, governors like Abbott and Ron DeSantis in Florida will not encourage their citizens to do the things that science has shown will save lives. If we mitigate and get vaccinated we cut down the case numbers which cuts down on hospitalization which cuts down on death. It’s really that simple. But that’s not the real problem.
The real problem has been the politicization of a deadly infectious pandemic. It is the reduction of resistance to mask wearing to a political statement, particularly masculine in nature.
Atul Gawande wrote an insightful piece in The New Yorker on February 8 describing how the hard hit city of Minot, North Dakota struggled with on again, off again mask mandates in an effort to control the pandemic in rural America.
It’s all there. The initial feeling that this was no worse than the flu. Then the realization that covid was deadly and not just to the elderly, although the older citizens were particularly vulnerable. Then came the dispute about a mask mandate that at first passed then was lifted by statewide forces. You know the drill. The same scene played out all over the country with people not willing to disrupt their lives in the face of an invisible killer that no one wanted to believe had brought the world to a very scary place.
Well, too bad Governor Abbott. Leaders don’t get to choose the crises that they have to manage, but you have done a poor job at this one. How poor? So poor that you used this problem to cover up your ineptitude in keeping the lights on in Texas and making sure Texans have clean drinking water. You traded one screw up for yet another.
By any measure, Governor Abbott has been a dismal failure in protecting his citizens from the harm of a pandemic, as well as from a disaster that appeared natural in origin but which had occurred a mere ten years before. Furthermore, the leaders of the state had been warned that the plan they had to keep the energy grid intact in case of cold was insufficient.
They fired the head of ERCOT. Great! Just in time. Why wasn’t the governor looking out for the energy grid when it was clear from legislative testimony ten years ago that having a stand alone power source and one that was not insulated for cold snaps was a disaster waiting to happen.
I think the time has come for the Democrats of this state to coalesce around some one person who starts to run against Governor Abbott right now. It could be Beto. It could be a Castro brother. It could be Wendy Davis. Heck, I’m fine with County Judge Hidalgo. Abbott is vulnerable now. It is time to go on the attack. I am assuming the sound of one hand clapping we hear now is due to the fact that the Legislature is in session and the timing is not right to mount a gubernatorial challenge now. I disagree. Abbott has made more than enough mistakes. Call him out now and go for broke. You want to beat him. That starts now!