After our post yesterday which included a photo of Gov. John Bel Edwards cavorting, sans mask, in non-socially distant fashion at Baton Rouge Country Club just before scolding Louisianans about their Thanksgiving holiday celebrations, we received a good deal of blowback and denial that what the picture showed was not what it showed.
There was a story, apparently put out by a Republican congressional staffer with a familial relation to the governor, that the photo had actually been taken earlier this year prior to the onset of Edwards’ COVID-19 shutdowns. As the photo as posted to Twitter lacked a time stamp, this was something of a disputed question.
Except for the photo’s background, which showed the cart paths on the BRCC golf course torn up. We asked around and found out those paths are currently under construction.
Edwards was then asked about the photo in his press conference yesterday, and he confirmed that it was real. But his reaction was not what one might have expected.
(In the event the embed doesn’t take you to the point at which Edwards is asked about the photograph, it begins at the 46:55 mark.)
The body language and tone of voice Edwards showed in that clip don’t particularly reflect a truth-telling way. He’s squirmy and his voice falters, as though he knows he’s lying when he says he did nothing wrong.
Edwards and his team didn’t really even bother to get their story straight. While he said that he was leaving, and a few seconds later he’d have been photographed with a mask on, that wasn’t what his media flack said.
A spokeswoman for the governor’s office says the photo was taken in the second week of November at the Baton Rouge Country Club. The spokeswoman says Edwards wore a mask while golfing that day and then removed it after sitting down outdoors to eat. She says someone at another table spoke to the governor and the governor “briefly” stood up to speak to that person, while forgetting to put his mask back on.
“There was absolutely nothing I did that day that violated the rules that were in place,” the governor said when asked about the photo during the news conference Wednesday.
“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.”
“He is not in violation of his own orders,” said Deputy Communications Director Shauna Sanford. “He had his mask on the entire time that day, except for when he was eating. Someone said something to him and he responded in a very brief moment. He was not doing anything that goes against his Phase 3 order.”
There remains a dispute about the date of the photograph. Edwards’ camp says it was taken on Nov. 8 or 9, while the original poster on Twitter says the picture was taken two weeks later.
What is significant about the admission is the tone-deaf nature of the governor’s response. He’s not a complete buffoon, and he certainly has to understand his being photographed engaging in normal activities after months of browbeating the people of the state about social distancing and wearing a mask puts him in the same category as Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, Lori Lightfoot, Gretchen Whitmer and other politicians, interestingly all Democrats, whose actions don’t match their COVID-19 admonitions. Instead of acknowledging that and apologizing for it, Edwards leaned in and said he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
In other words, he bears no responsibility to set a good example for Louisianans to follow with respect to his mandates and restrictions.
Why anyone should listen to anything this loathsome, hypocritical man says, on COVID-19 or any other subject, is an open question.