The Corner

Health Care

The Humbling of Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media in Midland, Mich., about the flooding along the Tittabawassee River, May 20, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer traveled out-of-state to visit her sick father sometime between one and seven months ago according to Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for the governor. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends that Michiganders “delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

Whitmer was not vaccinated until April 6, so she would have been required to self-quarantine for a week after her trip. Another staffer, Bobby Leddy, has insisted that the governor followed all relevant public-health guidelines leading up to and after her trip. Whitmer previously stated that her father lives in Florida, but her office has not confirmed where she traveled to see him, citing security concerns. While Whitmer flouted best practices advocated by her administration, restrictions allowing no more than 25 attendees at funeral services in the state — regardless of building capacity — remained in place.

This is not the first time Whitmer and those closest to her have struggled to follow state law and guidelines. Whitmer’s husband tried to strong-arm a dock worker into putting his boat in the water before last Memorial Day weekend, and just last week it was revealed that her DHHS director vacationed in Alabama earlier this month.

An early-pandemic media darling who was considered a frontrunner to join Joe Biden on the Democratic presidential ticket, Whitmer has been harshly critical of other state executives, arguing that they “haven’t done enough” and have been responsible for “people dying on their watch.” Michigan is right now first in the country in COVID cases per capita over the last seven days. Whitmer has blamed the Michigan’s struggles on the loss of emergency powers she wielded this time last year, powers she used to stop residents from traveling between their own homes or purchasing seeds for home-gardening purposes.

Whitmer’s decision to visit her father is one no reasonable person would judge her for in a vacuum, but perhaps this experience will teach the governor to approach her job with a new sense of humility and compassion.

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