Hammer another nail into the political coffin of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, of the self-inflicted variety.
If Edwards seeks another elected office outside of his home Tangipahoa Parish, his opposition will have a field day with a photograph taken of him last month at the Baton Rouge Country Club. In it, he leans over in an outdoor dining terrace to converse, clearly within six feet of people. And he’s not wearing a mask.
For months, while other governors have eschewed this requirement attendant to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Edwards has ordered utilizing face coverings both indoors and outdoors in public venues, in additional to asking for people to keep their distance from each other in public, backed by rules limiting business capacity. Then he appears hypocritically breaking his own rules, suggesting he doesn’t have to follow these – rules that have led to closing a number of Louisiana businesses, some permanently, and putting hundreds of thousands of Louisianans out of work and many into poverty.
Initially busted on social media – the picture poster saying it happened a couple of weeks ago – publicized by The Hayride and then not let off the hook by WAFB-TV’s Lester Duhé when asked about it at his latest news conference, Edwards personified the political aphorism “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.” He claimed it happened almost a month ago and he was on his way out at the time – even though his media mouthpiece claimed the incident happened while he dined. “There was absolutely nothing I did that day that violated the rules that were in place,” he said when asked about the photo during the news conference. “Had that photo been taken ten seconds later, you would have seen me with a mask on,” the governor said. “I don’t think we ask anyone to eat at a table with a mask on.”
Except he wasn’t eating, because he was on his way out, or maybe he was still chewing, but he wasn’t at his table eating when he rose and walked several feet to rap. Whatever story he concocts isn’t very convincing, but in a sense it doesn’t matter.
Because if he ever does try to advance a political career beyond his current gig, rest assured this photo will be plastered on television screens everywhere. Accompanying text and voiceover will emphasize that Edwards was living high off the hog at the Baton Rouge COUNTRY CLUB – while 112,000 more Louisianans were jobless than were just over a year ago because of his mandates, which he doesn’t even bother to apply to himself, joining a club almost exclusively of Democrats who call for or enact such measures yet flout them at their own convenience. Rules for thee, but not for me, especially if you are the little people ….
That’s just the bare bones; undoubtedly clever consultants of an opponent’s campaign or from hostile interest groups will come up with additional, heavier-cutting parries to go along with the image. And then will have to come more explaining from Edwards’ camp, which just leads to more losing.
You have to have some political skills to find yourself in the Governor’s Mansion, but a very basic rule of politics is if you don’t walk your talk, make sure nobody outside your inner circle or whoever that inner circle can’t control ever sees it. Edwards is an absolute political idiot, after facing so much criticism for his rules and going to such lengths to enforce them that he sues to keep them in place, to then let himself be seen in public flouting these.
His heavy-handed pandemic response already has made him close to unelectable for a future statewide office, if not putting him absolutely there already. This blunder just pushes him that much farther off track.