The posturing around the COVID crisis by Speaker of the Michigan House, Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), and Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), reminds me of the 2008 animated film Kung-Fu Panda. (Well of course it does — it's only natural.)
There's a scene in which Shifu comes to his zen-like master, Oogway, to warn him of impending danger:
Shifu: I... I... have... it's... it's very bad news.
Oogway: Aah, Shifu. There's just news. There's no good or bad.
Shifu: Master, your vision... your vision was right. Tai Lung [the evil and very powerful bad guy] has broken out of prison! He's on his way!
Oogway: That is bad news...
Although I would hardly describe them as zen-like, I see Chatfield and Shirkey as playing the role of the guru master, Oogway. Their tendency is to try stay above the panic and address the issues with their wisdom about limiting the role of government, about constitutional law, about personal freedoms, and so on. But now that an evil and powerful bad guy (COVID-19) is loose, they could at least acknowledge the reality. Unlike Oogway, these guys have not come close to that.
I want to give Chatfield and Shirkey both the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that their clinging to dogmatic beliefs is authentic and not a political calculation. But it's difficult in the face of what they did in the spring and what they are doing now.
And to be sure, despite following the advice of the scientific and medical professionals, not everything that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has done has worked. Some didn't seem to make sense. (Remember when we collectively lost our minds earlier this year when we couldn't buy paint at Lowe's for a few weeks?) But at least she's listening and she is engaging. C'mon guys. This virus, it IS bad news.
John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.