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Community voices: Delegate’s column on Hogan juvenile, devoid of facts or theories

It is strange times indeed when a Democrat has to defend a Republican governor from a Republican state delegate, but here we are. Del. Haven Shoemaker’s juvenile name-calling and fact-free accusations [in his June 13 column for the Times, “Gov. Hogan deserves an ‘F’ for his handling of pandemic] are so wildly off base one has to wonder what his real agenda is in smearing Gov. Larry Hogan.

As I’ve written before, Gov. Hogan is a hero, and his early decisions addressing the pandemic saved many thousands of lives. This was without any meaningful help from federal authorities who are supposed to lead on these issues. Balancing public health with economic priorities is nearly impossible, and I agree with Hogan prioritizing Marylander’s lives and well-being over other concerns. He bought the health care system precious time to prepare, which will serve us well this fall when the second wave hits.

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Shoemaker bases his entire attack on his assertion that the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) released a scorecard ranking state COVID-19 responses, and Hogan got a D. This is a lie. Not that Hogan got a D, but that this “scorecard” has anything to do with the RGA. It actually originated from Freedom Works and The Committee to Unleash Prosperity, two front groups for the Heritage Foundation and other extreme right wing organizations shilling for President Trump.

Two of the states that received A’s on the “report card,” Florida and Oklahoma, are already experiencing resurgent COVID-19 cases due to their lax approach to public health, exactly what Shoemaker thinks we should be doing.

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Shoemaker doesn’t appear to believe the numbers of projected deaths public health officials used as the basis for closing businesses early on. Perhaps he doesn’t understand them, because later in his column he asserts that: “Anybody with two brain cells who was paying attention back in February should have realized that nursing homes were particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.”

This is interesting because I can’t find any trace of Shoemaker proposing public health plans back in February, or raising the alarm about nursing homes. Maryland public health officials certainly did, and they are the ones Hogan works with to formulate policy. Perhaps Shoemaker can elaborate further on whether his February status was one of inattention or cerebral incapacity.

Or could there be another explanation? Through the years, Shoemaker has established a public record of written and spoken words which consistently parrot the right-wing fringe. This pandering is one of Shoemaker’s regular political shticks, so maybe his baseless Hogan bashing is just more of the same.

Either way, he doesn’t offer any concrete facts or even theories about what Hogan should have done differently.

The repeated assertions that Hogan is somehow a “liberal” are funny coming from a former Democrat like Shoemaker. Until he started his political career, Shoemaker was a reliable Democrat as recently as 2002. I should know: he helped me in my run back then as a Democrat against the incumbent Republican delegates. Not that it did me much good. I got creamed.

Maybe the point of Shoemaker’s column has nothing to do with facts, Hogan saving lives, or practical solutions to the challenges of the pandemic. Maybe it’s just meant to rile up the fringe. The name-calling is identical to the president’s penchant for demeaning nicknames, and Shoemaker seems to take special offense that Hogan doesn’t tolerate President Trump’s catastrophically incompetent handling of the pandemic.

The Hogan hatchet job makes sense if Shoemaker is auditioning for a talk radio job spouting right-wing gibberish, or perhaps he’s angling for a White House position. Lesser officials have demonstrated recently that sucking up to the president constitutes the most important qualification for White House employment, so any no-name, back-bench state delegate has a decent shot at a sweet federal job as long as they’re willing to grovel.

Regardless, an elected official representing our county at the state level should have a better grasp of the complex public health issues the governor is wrestling with before he spouts off. The puerile attack that appeared on these pages wouldn’t have impressed the cool kids on a middle school bus ride. It certainly should be beneath a state delegate.

Robert Wack writes from Westminster, where he served on the City Council for 16 years. He can be reached at Robert.p.wack@gmail.com.

For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest community voices column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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