I’m sure he’s noticed. I’m positive his strategists have. But have you noticed how few people outside the Republican Party seem willing to forgive Gov. Snyder – even a little bit – for the Flint water crisis?
And by few I mean no one.
I’ve heard no one say, “Yes, he screwed up but he’s doing his best to fix it.” No one has said, “Gosh, it’s obvious how much this hurts him personally, maybe it’s time to get off his back.” And certainly no one has said “You know, he’s right, let’s stop pointing fingers and focus on solutions.”
Instead, the public tone toward him seems to grow more and more hostile by the day. Three full months after he supposedly first learned about the true scope of the problem, Snyder remains a curiously unsympathetic figure, locally and nationally.
This is not the normal course of things. America is a profoundly forgiving nation, which is why the SOP (standard operating procedure) for politicians who screw up – from hanky-panky to incompetence – is to fess up fast, take responsibility and promise to make things right.
Snyder has bent over backward trying to follow protocol. He’s all but had the words “I’m sorry, all right?” tattooed on his forehead.
And yet the needle never seems to move in his favor.
Why? Three main reasons, I figure:
One, there’s the scope and seriousness of the crisis. Children have been poisoned – an entire city of children. Is there a worse thing someone can be accused of/responsible for? Frighteningly enough, there is. That shoe has yet to fall, though. Just wait and see what kind of feces storm hits Snyder if the Legionnaire’s deaths in Flint – now up to 10 – are finally and formally linked to tainted river water. And you wonder why the guy is lawyering up.
Two, while he’s taken responsibility, it’s been limited. He’s taken the blame but only for not knowing in time. It was those other people – those career bureaucrats – who are really at fault, Snyder told Congress. Few seem to buy that, and for good reason. If there’s a less effective and less sincere-sounding apology than “I’m sorry for what those people did to you,” I don’t know what it is.
Three, ultimately, no one believes he’s telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even when he’s sworn in front of Congress to do so. As my new hero, Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pennsylvania, said during the hearing, “Plausible deniability only works when it’s plausible. You were not in a medically induced coma for a year. I’ve had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies.”
Bingo. That’s it right there. Despite all Snyder’s efforts, despite what I’m sure he thinks is his abject sincerity, people sense there’s something he’s not telling us.
His handlers would say, “We’ve been open! We released emails, didn’t we?” Yes, but only after being pressured to. But have all of them been released? Many people doubt that. And what about all the redactions in the emails that were released – what’s in those, and why were they redacted in the first place?
The truth is, questions continue to linger about Snyder because he hasn’t been fully open and honest, which isn’t surprising in a state with among the most limited Freedom of Information Act laws in the country. (Guess which party is responsible for that?)
In other words, he’s earned the public’s lack of forgiveness.
Don’t feel sorry for him.
Not that you were.