It’s hard to imagine how a governor could be more consistently embarrassing during the pandemic than Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa.
At last night’s Donald Trump rally in Des Moines, close to 10,000 people packed together at the airport to see the President. Reynolds revved up the Trump supporters beforehand, maybe a fourth of whom were wearing masks, calling them an “amazing crowd.”
“I am proud to be a governor that puts her trust in our people,” Reynolds said of her choices on COVID-19. “Because they are responsible, they are resilient and they will do the right thing!”
I’m sorry, but are you fucking kidding us?
Reynolds was literally talking to crowd of Iowans that were doing exactly the wrong thing in the most reckless way possible, at a time where Iowa’s coronavirus situation is spiraling out of control. Hospitalizations are at an all-time high in Iowa! Daily positive cases and deaths are surging! There are 61 current nursing home outbreaks! There are 20 counties with positivity rates over 15%! The state’s overall positivity rate is 10%!
And they were doing the wrong thing by Reynolds’ own orders, ones that she was brazenly flouting for her own political gain.
“The gathering organizer must ensure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual attending alone,” reads one of Reynolds’ latest proclamations on gatherings of more than ten people. The Trump campaign had pushed chairs together, people were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the bleachers, and everyone crammed in to get closer to the stage.
Reynolds congratulated a rally that could hardly be better constructed for a superspreader event if they had tried. At least it was outside, though so was the Rose Garden ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett that served as a superspreader that infected top Republicans. The Des Moines rally’s attendance was at a magnitude far higher, but Trump and Republicans have certainly shown a disdain for their own supporters these past four years.
And then Reynolds had the nerve to congratulate herself on what a great job that Iowa, the state with the seventh-worst per-capita spread in the country, had done on COVID-19.
“And that is why we were able to keep over 80% of our workforce working and our businesses open,” Reynolds bragged. “It is why we are getting our kids safely and responsibly back in school — 75% of our school districts are teaching children in the building! Yay! We can do this!”
Part of keeping that workforce open was forcing meatpacking plant workers into facilities the state knew was unsafe and covered for, resulting in thousands of infections and many deaths. And it caused Iowa’s infection rates to lead the nation at multiple times this year — hardly anything to brag about.
“We are ready to come out of this economy stronger and better than ever. We’ve got this! If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that leadership matters,” Reynolds continued. “It matters in your hometown. It matters in Des Moines. And it matters in Washington D.C. And it is why it is critical that we reelect Donald Trump for four more years.”
Leadership does matter, which is why it’s been so unacceptable that Reynolds has outsourced all her thinking and actions to Trump himself, merely following his personal lead that has led to the needless deaths of over 215,000 Americans from the virus. She’s followed him more than his actual administration, as the White House coronavirus task force has repeatedly warned Iowa about its incredibly high COVID-19 cases and urged Reynolds to implement a mask mandate.
But she doesn’t want to hear it. Nor do the Trump supporters, whose denial about the virus she openly enables.
And what does Reynolds get in return for her subservience? Jokes and derision from the President, who spent part of his time at the rally complaining that coverage of Iowa flooding (he seemed to have meant the derecho) overshadowed news of his Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
A day before coming to Iowa, Trump tweeted out a meme mocking Joe Biden as a nursing home resident. That gave a good, accurate sense of how he feels about the countless senior citizens that have perished in longterm care facilities from COVID-19’s unchecked spread, a major problem here in Iowa.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2020
“I may never have to come back here again,” Trump also said of the prospect of losing Iowa in the presidential election, pointing at Reynolds as he did it. “You understand that, Kim?”
To Trump, Iowa is only important so long as it benefits him politically. Forget about whatever happens to the people living here.
Enough voters have seen through that callousness, which is why Trump is tied with Joe Biden in most recent Iowa polls, and why the Senate race is so close as well.
Reynolds should be paying very close attention to Sen. Joni Ernst’s struggles in her Senate reelection campaign. That’s going to be Reynolds in two years. Ernst’s undying loyalty to Republican Party leadership and Trump have convinced Iowa voters that she isn’t loyal to them. Reynolds has attached herself to Trump just as much, with similar disastrous governing consequences for Iowans.
But this is about much more than politics.
The people of Iowa are hurting. Its people are dying — 1,505 as of this morning — from a pandemic that Reynolds refuses to take seriously. People are sick and tired of being stuck at home due to the reckless actions of those who don’t care.
Iowa desperately needs a governor that’s interested in representing all its people. Reynolds has been a governor for Trump supporters and absolutely no one else. Her priority has been to suck up to a President who clearly doesn’t give a shit about Iowans beyond their electoral benefit to him.
Trump may yet crash and burn on Nov. 3. And Reynolds may change her tune during a post-Trump presidency. But she’s shown us more than enough of who she is this year, and Iowans should remember that in 2022.
by Pat Rynard
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