Friday, April 24, 2020

Why Abbott Can't Meet his Fundamental Challenge

"A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor,
But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days."
Proverbs 28:16

The Dallas Observer has an interesting write up about regulatory issues related to alcohol sales during the current government mandated shutdowns.  The whole thing is worth your time.  But one passage stands out:
April 17, the governor issued what he touted in national media as the first order reopening any state. He seemed very proud of being first. But as he has done with many issues, such as his alcohol and church service orders, he issues a bold press release that is followed with substantially less than was promised.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
The underlined part is the Greg Abbottest thing that Greg Abbott ever did Greg Abbott.

[Note: Especially because Greg Abbott put lobbyists and campaign contributors in charge of the so-called "re-opening."]

Beyond the specific regulatory issues related to alcohol sales, however, that half-sentence is interesting because it gets to the heart of what's plaguing Abbott: There's no way to make everyone happy.

At no point, certainly as Governor (and probably not as A.G. either), has Greg Abbott ever had to tell anybody "no."  Abbott has been able to give the good ol' boy/bidness-as-usual crowd most of the policy stuff they want, while using Fox News to toss his base empty calories flavored to resemble red meat.  We're rapidly learning that this strategy only works during times of plenty.

During times of scarcity, however, any decisions you make will inevitably piss someone off.  And, at least to this point, Abbott hasn't shown any willingness to do that.  So Abbott punts, and punts, and punts....

But here's the thing about punting: It only works as long as the defense holds up.

Abbott's defense, at least to this point, has always been a strong economy.

He doesn't have that anymore.

Bottom Line:  The diversionary tactics Abbott has used in the past seem, at least so far, to be poorly suited to a bad economy.  Time will tell if that holds up.  If it does, Abbott could be in for a very rough ride over the next few years.

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