The right mouth of government obviously has no idea what the left mouth is saying. And because government can’t get its message straight, we’re all confused.

On one hand, Gov. Henry McMaster says some businesses can now open in South Carolina, although it’s no clearer why a craft shop or a florist is “essential” in the curious way a gun shop has been for the last few weeks. Grocery stores we understand. But gun shops?

Meanwhile, the governor says no to opening schools (good idea, finally). But wait: It’s also OK suddenly to go to boat landings, some beaches and, soon, state parks. Yet people are still being told by state and national officials to stay at home, stay separated, maintain social distance and to not congregate.

What the hell?

None of this doubletalk makes much sense. One local official stated what’s pitifully obvious, it’s not “intelligent or coherent by any means.”

The coronavirus crisis certainly is nothing we’ve ever seen and no one seems to have been prepared for it. So maybe all of the confusion just stems from all of the politicians making it up as they go along.

With McMaster, the best we can figure is he is highly attuned to whether there is even a hint of “liberating” South Carolina while he’s in charge. In fact, his ears appear to be closer to right wingers at home than to how his nose has been firmly stuck to the backside of his buddy, President Donald Trump, star performer and daily media briefer who is using the coronavirus crisis to feather the nest of his gargantuan narcissism.

Trump is the worst of the double talkers. He started the week of April 13 by bombastically asserting he had ultimate authority on when the nation should reopen for business in light of coronavirus. Four days later, he backed down when he said the nation’s governors were responsible for when and how individual states should get back to business. Maybe he was off his meds.

But the next day, April 17, he was back, red-faced and vitriolic, acting like no American president in history. After reading reports of his previous day’s capitulation, Trump lashed out, encouraging right-wing protesters to “liberate” Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia, three states with Democratic governors, from coronavirus regimens put in place to protect people. And this led to national headlines about how he was inciting resistance against governors.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, reacted with much frost to Trump’s flip-flop. “The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies even while his own administration says the virus is real and is deadly, and that we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted,” he said.

Anyone familiar with the president’s ongoing lies and pandering should have seen his turnabout coming from 10 miles away. Repeatedly during this crisis of monstrous proportions, he’s done only one real thing consistently: He’s displayed a continuing lack of leadership. Rather than set reasonable courses of action, he wings it in daily briefings better left to scientists. Rather than soothe the nation, he incites red against blue when the disease doesn’t care which political party the next victim belongs to.

All of this doubletalk is just plain confusing. It doesn’t help that some in the media are part of the problem. Fox News is little more than a national network of propaganda that disseminates unrest over stories about how people are coping. And locally, some South Carolina television stations interrupt local news broadcasts to showcase the president’s press conferences, also known as unpaid campaign commercials.

South Carolina and national leaders need to start listening to scientists. They need to make sure what they do is best for everyone suffering in social isolation and in the pandemic. Yes, we need businesses to reopen. But not until it’s safe to do so.

Thank goodness for leadership by the nation’s scientists and doctors. They’re proving to be the real heroes of the coronavirus crisis. In the days ahead, do what you can to thank health care professionals, first responders and frontline public servants working to keep our communities safe. They need more love than they’re getting.

Andy Brack is the publisher of the Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to:

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