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The UK's Dominic Cummings Scandal: All Right, What's All This Then?
Some countries insist leaders follow their own rules? How quaint!
Americans may have a hard time understanding the scandal in Britain over the news that Dominic Cummings, a top adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, broke the country's stay-at-home order so he could drive to hell and back at a time when the country was supposed to be in full lockdown. The British press — even the rightwingy ones! — has been acting like it's a big deal when members of the government don't follow the same rules that they're telling the rest of the populace to follow. There have been calls for Cummings to resign, or for Johnson to fire Cummings, which would at least afford the opportunity for some saucy headlines about his being sacked. One member of Johnson's government has already resigned in protest of the hypocrisy. Really, people in other countries still think gross hypocrisy is a bad thing, not simply a style of governing!
This is all a bit confusing for us Colonials, because If a member of Donald Trump's White House had completely disregarded government guidance on protecting others' health, that person would be the president or vice president. Our perspective has gotten so warped it's hard for us to even see the scandal. Guess that means we're sophisticated.
Here are the basics: In late March, the UK was in a far more complete lockdown, after Johnson's government had delayed taking any particular actions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, jawing instead about letting the virus "wash over" the country. People were told they should stay in their homes, taking only a single walk daily for exercise, and had been told that driving around the country was a no-no because it could worsen the pandemic.
Cummings is sort of a Steve Bannon for Johnson, the burn-it-all-down policy guy who does what passes for thinking for the Big Man. In late March he rushed home from the British White House when his wife became seriously ill with COVID-19 symptoms. The health orders at the time required anyone experiencing symptoms to immediately self-quarantine, but instead, Cummings, his wife, and their 4-year-old son hopped in a car and drove over 250 miles to his parents' home in Durham, in northeast England, where they stayed in a separate house on the property.
Cummings explained in an hour-long press conference that he thought he'd had no other choice, because what if he got sick too and no one could take care of the little boy? He insisted they knew no one in London who could care for the child, at least not without also risking the boy's infecting another really important person in government. But at his parents' place, there were plenty of other family members to get sick. See what sort of sacrifice he was willing to make? As it turned out, Cummings did become ill, but by then his wife was well enough to take care of the kiddo.
Then, when Cummings was feeling a little better, all three took a half-hour drive from Durham to "Castle Barnard" because — and we are absolutely not making this up — Cummings said his vision was a little wonky due to the illness and he wanted to make sure he could see well enough to drive back to London. It must have worked out just fine, because he didn't crash into anything, and the next day they returned to the capital.
Yes, he wasn't sure he could see well enough for a road trip, so he took a road trip. With his child, whose safety he worried about so much.
Here's an excerpt of the presser, from the Beeb. We like the part where Cummings immediately blames the media.
No apology from Dominic Cummings as he denies breaching rules and refuses to resign - BBC News youtu.be
So far, Johnson has been standing up for Cummings, explaining there was no double standard at all, and that he accepted Cummings's explanation that he'd had "no alternative" to driving for five hours while others were being told to stay indoors no matter what. Cummings, Johnson says, behaved "responsibly, legally and with integrity."
Asked about the weirdass explanation that Cummings took a 60-mile round trip to test his ability to drive while his vision was impaired, Johnson didn't quite answer the question:
"I'm finding that I have to wear spectacles for the first time in years." He then held up a pair of reading glass and said it was "very plausible that eyesight can be a problem associated with coronavirus."
And driving while you can't see straight is also a side effect, sure. Other officials found fault with that explanation, probably because they're Deep State Democratic operatives who want to hurt Donald Trump:
"Sorry this just doesn't add up. You're so sick you worry that your eyesight is impaired yet you drive miles with your child in the car to check whether you can drive further? A clear nonsense. Patent nonsense," Labour MP Chris Bryant wrote on Twitter.
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, tweeted: "Folks, I say this in all sincerity and as an important road safety issue. If you're feeling unwell and your eyesight may be impaired do not drive your vehicle to test your ability to drive. It's not a wise move."
Why, it's almost as if they're hinting that Cummings was doing tourism instead of road testing his eyeballs. How cynical!
And here are Mr. Cummings's neighbors shouting at him most uncivilly, FROTHING AT THE MOUTH LIKE:
@carolecadwalla Balcony angle on Cummings going home: https://t.co/6lJbiOijUe
— Dr Mike Galsworthy (@Dr Mike Galsworthy) 1590445285.0
It's not clear at this point whether Cummings will be able to keep his job, or whether he'll be appointed to be the new head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He's got the right attitude for this administration.
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