“We have to take this seriously,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said on Friday of her state’s strict lockdown order, and nothing is more serious than a Sunday afternoon of golf at an exclusive club just a block away from her official residence.
A YouTube user going by the handle “John Doe” did a drive-by of the Country Club at Lansing yesterday, showing plenty of golfers enjoying the spring weather and ignoring social distancing rules.
“COVID-19 isn’t our kind, dear,” I suppose.
Last Thursday Kyle Kaminski reported for the Lansing City Pulse that the Club was reopening “after a brief shutdown” despite guidance “from the state’s top law enforcement official that said otherwise.”
Well, there’s guidance and then there’s guidance. The club has its own, telling members in an email that “We cannot rely on the superfluous statements made by each respective office and must only rely on the text of the order itself.” The email went on to claim that “If the governor intended the order to specifically ban golf, she would have included such specific language in the order.”
Kaminski wrote that a spokesperson for Attorney General Dana Nessel said that there’s no special exemption for private clubs: “Bottom line is that golf courses may not be open.”
Does she even know what’s going on just a few hundred feet away from Governor Whitmer’s house?
You’d think Whitmer might want to be more sensitive to the optics of what’s going on at the Country Club at Lansing. While her state bristles under a lockdown order that might be the strictest — not to mention the most capricious — in the nation, the well-to-do are flaunting it on a private golf course. Instead, Whitmer seems to be doubling down. On CNN’s State of the Union yesterday, Whitmer said, “Michigan right now has the third-highest death count in the country, we are the 10th-largest state, as you can deduce this means we have a uniquely hard issue going on here.”
Third-highest isn’t actually all that high. Michigan reports about 2,400 deaths attributed to the Chinese coronavirus, while first-place New York is closing in on 15,000.
In both New York and Michigan, the vast majority of infections and deaths are taking place in just two, big, crowded cities: New York City and Detroit. So there is a case — a strong one, I’d argue — that suburban, exurban, and rural areas shouldn’t have to chafe under the same restrictions as densely-populated urban areas. But that isn’t the case Whitmer has made, preferring instead a one-size-fits-all, top-down mandate.
Except that is for her golf-happy neighbors along pricy Moores River Drive.