Source: Calculation from NY Times COVID-19 data repository on Github. Case counts maintained by Johns Hopkins University. Data reported through 10/12/2020. Note that I’ve had to expand the vertical scale since the last time I published this graph, just a few days ago.
Definition of goober
By goobers, I’m not talking about peanuts. I’m talking about a slang term for individuals who are naively stupid. A name, per folklore and tradition, typically associated with residents of the rural South. (I must note here that I am a southerner).
Here’s an example of how the Governor of Florida permanently established his goober cred (Post #825). The spread of COVID-19 among college students is a serious issue that universities across the country are addressing. Student parties have been repeatedly identified as the single largest source of spread of infection. Colleges acted to restrict those parties. In response, the governor of Florida proposed a legal “Right to Party” for college students. What a goober.
The Dakotas are proving that the South has no monopoly on goober governors.
Today (10/14/2020), if you ask Google News what’s happening in the Dakotas regarding coronavirus, among other things, you’ll see this:
The second headline absolutely shows that claim in the first headline is false. (As does the number of individuals hospitalized, the number who have died, and so on.)
But that claim sounds familiar, somehow. The governor of a state with a big COVID-19 outbreak, denying the reality of the outbreak, and blaming the case counts on better testing?
“There’s no actual increase in coronavirus cases, it’s all due to more testing?” Now where have I heard that before?
Oh, yeah, Florida. That was the reason for the surge in Florida — more testing.
Source: WINK news, June 11, 2020.
Until it wasn’t the reason for the surge in Florida.
Source: Politico, June 20, 2020.
Time lag: 9 days.
The important lessons I get from this is that South Dakota may finally be at the true grasping-at-straws stage of denial. Saying anything, no matter how obviously incorrect, rather than admit that there’s a problem.
North Dakota, by contrast, is down to its last 16 ICU beds, so they don’t have quite as much leeway for make-believe as South Dakota does. With that thin a margin, they pretty much have to stay grounded in reality, even if they aren’t politically capable of taking simple policy steps (MASK MANDATE) to reduce spread of disease. So, we haven’t seen, nor do I expect to see, anything so obviously stupid come from the governor of North Dakota.
But South Dakota hasn’t hit the wall yet, on hospital capacity. That leaves plenty of time for the Governor to try to bullshit her way through this. Assuming their Goober Governor follows roughly the same timeline as Florida’s Goober Governor, we’re probably good for another week or two of transparently false denials about the increase of COVID-19 cases in that state. And maybe the situation there will magically resolve itself without any overt action by the State government. But at this point, it’s a fair bet that we won’t see any such action, at least until the last ICU bed in the state is filled. If then.
But the real lesson I take from Goober Politics is that it works because there are lots of goobers out there. Sure, in the second surge (see graph above), we had the POTUS say the same thing — the uptick in cases was due to testing. He was wrong, but at this point, that’s hardly news. Nor is it news that truth or accuracy place no limits on what the President will say. Nor is it any guarantee that he won’t say that about the current, third, surge, if it strikes his fancy.
And so, we have this final bit of analysis, from mid-August, from the Pew Memorial Trust. Ultimately, this is why various Republican leaders are more than happy to spout obviously incorrect nonsense. Because there’s an entire class of voters who are more than happy to lap that up. The South has no monopoly on goobers.