Saturday, July 11, 2020

Scathing Critique by Houston Chronicle Editors of Gov. Abbott's Pandering to the Base of the Texas Republican Party

It's a pretty big deal when the editors of one of the largest newspapers in the state of Texas and in the country, the Houston Chronicle, issue a scathing critique of our sitting governor.

As cited herein, with Texas reporting "its deadliest day from the coronavirus on Tuesday, with 75 deaths and a record-shattering 10,400 new infections statewide, according to data analysis and reporting by Hearst Newspapers," Abbott cannot justifiably praise his own error-riddled response while casting blame on local leaders for the virus' resurgence when the fact of the matter is that he overruled their authority to mandate masks and delay re-opening their cities and the state.

This editorial by the editors of the Houston Chronicle is point-blank: 
"Does Abbott want to be the leader for 3 million Republican primary voters or the governor of 29 million Texans? He must decide. In this moment, he can’t be both."
This is the de facto party of death. It is with great urgency that we vote this governor and his party out of office. 

-Angela Valenzuela

Editorial: Gov. Abbott didn’t listen to coronavirus warnings and Texans died

In this June 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott adjusts his mask after speaking in Austin, Texas. Abbott on Thursday, July 2, ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state as numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spiked.

One moment in Texas’ battle against this ravenous pandemic signaled whether Gov. Greg Abbott would lead as the state’s top executive or a top political boss. Back in May, Abbott made the fateful decision to side with Dallas hair salon owner Shelley Luther instead of local leaders in major cities across the state such as Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
That choice, to embrace partisan politics and a fringe populist backlash over common sense and sound medical advice from his own advisers, condemned the Lone Star State to the circumstances we face today: Hospitals near the breaking point. Nearly 3,000 Texans dead — and counting.
When Luther reopened her Salon a la Mode in Dallas in violation of Abbott’s own order and publicly tore up a court order before TV cameras and an adoring crowd, the governor not only rushed to her defense but also accelerated his efforts to allow all hair salons to reopen ahead of gathering data about health impacts.
Hidalgo and other county and city leaders across the state were meanwhile getting steamrolled by Abbott’s superseding orders even as they begged for the authority to mandate masks and reopen more cautiously, moves that Abbott is now being forced to implement.
Abbott’s backpedaling and his acquiescence to the social distancing rebels hollering tyranny propelled him down a path to a reckless reopening of the state while downplaying the COVID-19 threat and suggesting crucial guidance on things such as wearing a mask, social-distancing and avoiding large crowds could be ignored on grounds of “personal liberty” or political fealty.
This is more than a case of a politician just doing what politicians do. This isn’t the same as impeding local leaders who want to ban plastic bags or clownishly calling the Texas State Guard to monitor a federal military exercise because some right-wing conspiracy theorists on the internet were convinced Jade Helm 15 sounded like a government plot to take their guns.
Abbott’s actions this time led to widespread sickness and hundreds of deaths.
The state’s top executive, elected to represent all Texans, chose to pander to the Republican base and curry favor with President Trump, who lauded the “fantastic job” he was doing getting Texas back up and running so quickly.
One sad irony is that if Abbott had been true to following the “doctors and the data” he kept citing, the state would be much closer to getting back to business instead of becoming a major coronavirus hot spot and cautionary tale.
Hospitalizations from lab-confirmed COVID-19 have more than doubled in Texas in the past two weeks, a 400 percent increase since Memorial Day, when Abbott began to signal the all-clear. Texas reported its deadliest day from the coronavirus on Tuesday, with 75 deaths and a record-shattering 10,400 new infections statewide, according to data analysis and reporting by Hearst Newspapers.
The blame rests with the governor, who waited until after the surge to finally issue a statewide mask order and to roll back some phases of reopening. He did nothing, however, to publicly discourage the state Republican Party from trying to hold a 6,000-person convention in Houston.
Speaking Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” Hidalgo forcefully laid out the case against Abbott’s record of mixed messages and political maneuvering.
“What we’re seeing is that wishful thinking is neither good economic policy nor good public health policy,” she said. “We had initially this increase back in March. I had the authority to issue a stay home order, and I did quickly, early. We avoided the fate of most other communities our size. But since then the state reopened — now we know, too early, too much. It took away my authority to enforce these orders.”
Hidalgo, whose leadership in her first term has shone through against the dithering and scheming of some of her more experienced elected colleagues, is still pushing for a stay-at-home order to save Houston and Harris County from a looming medical disaster.
“We need to give ourselves the time to bring those numbers down and to learn from the communities that have done things successfully,” she said. “We have to be proactive with this virus. We need to be real about what’s happening.”
Abbott told a San Antonio TV station this week that the problem is county judges and mayors trying to “shut things down completely back into lockdown mode that would really force Texans into poverty.”
“If local officials enforce the mask order, it will slow the spread of the coronavirus,” he said. “They just now need to step up and begin to enforce the orders that are already in place.”
Never mind that he celebrated Shelley Luther’s defiance of such orders and pushed ahead on reopening in spite of troubling data. He’s now touting his delayed response while blaming local leaders for the surge that came because he superseded their orders to satisfy the unmasked mob.
Does Abbott want to be the leader for 3 million Republican primary voters or the governor of 29 million Texans? He must decide. In this moment, he can’t be both.
The Editorial Board is made up of opinion journalists with wide-ranging expertise whose consensus opinions and endorsements represent the voice of the institution – defined as the board members, their editor and the publisher. The board is separate from the newsroom and other sections of the paper.

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