Texas Governor Greg Abbott Is Making an attempt to Lead in a Pandemic With out Choosing Sides

“Abbott wanted to offer a simple name to motion that might be simply communicated to thousands and thousands of Texans,” the editorial board of The Austin American-Statesman argued following Mr. Abbott’s government order on Tuesday. “As a substitute,” they wrote, “he danced round with semantics.”

If Texans have struggled to pin down Mr. Abbott’s view on the virus, their lieutenant governor has left no uncertainty about his personal. Certainly, Individuals who commonly tune into Fox Information usually know the place Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stands on any given difficulty, and the coronavirus has been no exception. On March 24, Mr. Patrick joined Tucker Carlson’s present to emphasize the necessity for Individuals to “get again to work” and “again to dwelling” or danger financial collapse. He mentioned that grandparents like him had been keen to danger “survival” as a way to keep a robust American financial system for his or her youngsters and grandchildren.

Up to now, Mr. Patrick’s brash fashion has proved helpful to Mr. Abbott, permitting the lieutenant governor to turn into the face of polarizing points even when Mr. Abbott, the temperamental inverse of Mr. Patrick, would possibly assist them himself. Ask Texans concerning the so-called rest room invoice of 2017, laws that may have restricted the restrooms that transgender individuals might use, and so they’ll bear in mind Mr. Patrick as its champion, the man who held information conferences and promoted it on cable information. Much less memorable in these scenes is Mr. Abbott, who regardless of taking nice care to telegraph his reluctance, and by no means meaningfully opining by some means, in the end agreed to name a particular session to contemplate the invoice.

At the moment, nevertheless, slightly than providing political cowl, Mr. Patrick’s robust positions serve principally to spotlight the governor’s strained pursuit of center floor. It’s not that Mr. Abbott has been absent. Lots of his choices have elicited bipartisan reward, together with asking well being insurers to waive prices of coronavirus testing and telemedicine visits, requesting the enlargement of Supplemental Vitamin Help Program advantages to drive-through eating places, and growing hospital capability.

However earlier than Tuesday, in tossing important choices like stay-at-home orders to the native degree, Mr. Abbott left county officers to scramble for steerage on methods to sluggish the virus’s unfold when strict social-distancing insurance policies had been in place in, say, Dallas County, however individuals had been allowed to maneuver freely in Collin County subsequent door. The end result, critics say, has been a muddled imaginative and prescient for a way Texans ought to confront this disaster exactly when readability is most wanted.

“Trump’s greatest failing has been in sending combined messages from the start of the coronavirus pandemic,” mentioned Mustafa Tameez, a Democratic strategist based mostly in Houston. Abbott, he argued, has accomplished the identical. “At the very least with Dan Patrick you realize the place he stands.”

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