All Hail Gretchen Whitmer, The Wolverine Queen!
It turns out that the “Operation Gridlock" protestors in Michigan were a vocal and infectious minority. Polls show that most residents support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's tyrannical efforts to keep them alive. Fifty-seven percent of Michiganders approve of how Whitmer is handling the COVID-19 crisis, and just 37 percent disapprove. (Two-thirds say her shelter-in-place restrictions are just right or don't go far enough.) Only 44 percent of state residents approve of Donald Trump's response to the pandemic, but this was before he suggested pairing their Detroit pizza with bleach.
Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016, but he's down in current polls. Joe Biden confirmed in his not always eloquent but never bleach-swilling way that Whitmer is on his short list for vice president. Critics have argued that she can't campaign for another office while managing a crisis, but what's more effective campaigning right now than managing this crisis?
Fox is doing its part:
Fox anchor: "Do you think Whitmer maybe misunderstood, maybe even underestimated how passionate people are about as… https://t.co/Iy6BNZ4Dvw— Lis Power (@Lis Power)1587734433.0
But it's just not working. A Fox News poll from just two days ago shows Whitmer's approval ratings in Michigan are 16 points higher than Donald Trump's.
So how do Republicans solve a problem like “that woman from Michigan"? Nick Manes from Crain's Detroit Business reports that some big brains are on the case and have come up with a mean (awesome) nickname.
TIL today: a contingent of those protesting @GovWhitmer's (and Michigan State Spartan alum) stay-at-home orders hav… https://t.co/szb1OAhCnv— Nick Manes (@Nick Manes)1587591481.0
These AstroTurfed protests were organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, which Betsy DeVos helps fund with her spare yacht money. This is really the best they could do. “Wolverine Queen" is objectively badass. Whitmer didn’t attend the University of Michigan, whose mascot is the wolverine. When I googled “Michigan State Spartan" and “Gretchen Whitmer," I learned that when Whitmer went to MSU as an undergrad, she planned to become a sports broadcaster. That's pretty cool. There was also a Facebook video of her reassuring kids that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were essential workers and could still come visit them. (Yes, everyone ripped off Jacinda Ardem.) She was wearing an MSU fleece and feeding treats to her dog. That was a far better Google rabbit hole than you'd encounter if you searched “Mitt Romney dog." There's no evidence that Whitmer ever mistreated an actual wolverine.
Wolverine Travels to the Past - Fight Scene - X-Men Days of Future Past - Movie CLIP HD www.youtube.com
You also don't need to be a comic book fan to know that Wolverine is a popular Marvel Comics superhero. He's also Hugh Jackman's signature role. Who doesn't love Hugh Jackman? "Wolverine Queen" sounds like a prize someone wins in a charity competition. You spend a weekend with Jackman and your spouse isn't allowed to ask questions.
I suppose the larger idea is that Whitmer is behaving like a queen because she's using her democratically elected powers as governor, which is not how queens work. Americans also like queens. They tune into Victoria on PBS Masterpiece and binge The Crown on Netflix. There aren't that many depictions of queens as flakes or morons who hawk coronavirus miracle cures like they're an informercial host. Claire Foy's final big scene as Queen Elizabeth is an epic reading of a feckless prime minister. We could use Whitmer's Wolverine Queen energy.
Raygun is already selling a Wolverine Queen tee-shirt with 35 percent of profits going to midwest food banks. We should expect to see Whitmer wearing one soon — maybe in a Biden campaign ad with Hugh Jackman (no jacket or shirt required). "Wolverine Queen" might "fetch," but probably not in the way the anti-Whitmer contingent might wish.
The Crown: Scene where Queen burns prime minister for resignation / quitting www.youtube.com
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).