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Hennenberger: Hypocrisy isn’t a good look for Newsom

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect The Press Democrat editorial board’s perspective. The opinion and news sections operate separately and independently of one another.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s great strength, as Republicans-gone-wild torch democracy while most Democrats can only gasp and make horrified faces, is his galloping case of don’t-give-a-hoot-itis. Joe Biden, God love him, is too polite to get in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s face.

But the same hubris that has made our governor a spokesman for blue America also led him to conclude that of course he could celebrate a lobbyist’s b’day at the French Laundry at the height of his COVID shutdown.

And that of course he could vacation in Montana this week, even though California has banned state-funded travel there, as one of the red states too discriminatory to LGBTQ+ people to deserve any of our tax dollars.

The ban is supposed to keep Californians from even inadvertently “supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

Montana is also one of the states that Newsom has said in a news release is likely to ban abortion soon. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, he said, “We will not cooperate with any states that attempt to prosecute women or doctors for receiving or providing reproductive care.” Montana is attempting to do that, though abortion is still legal there for now.

Now, if my in-laws had had a ranch in Big Sky Country instead of a ranch-style house in a suburb of Trenton, New Jersey, maybe I’d be more inclined to see this getaway to Gilead as no big deal.

But entitled behavior — one set of rules for me, and another for everyone else — just isn’t the kind of brass that Democrats want to see more of.

And if Newsom doesn’t wake up to the fact that hypocrisy is catnip to nobody, his next trip may be to Boris Johnson Land, where the British prime minister finally asked his country to excuse his double standards and double talk once too often.

A Newsom spokesman told CalMatters, which was first to report on the governor’s whereabouts, “We don’t legislate where people vacation. Never have. The travel ban applies to expending state funds. The Governor’s travel is not being paid for by the state.”

So, he’s traveling without a state-paid security detail? Let’s hope not.

Later, Erin Mellon, Newsom’s communications director, said, “We are not in the business of regulating where people have family or where they spend their vacation. Nor will we persecute them for visiting their family. The press shouldn’t either.”

Good one, trying to spin this as the poor man being punished for having too much wholesome family fun. And if this is persecution, Newsom will need to toughen up before running for the big job.

If there’s nothing wrong with visiting Montana, then why didn’t he tell us he was visiting Montana instead of keeping his destination unusually vague? Saying nothing was especially silly since he had to have known both that this would get out, and that when it did, Republicans would exult. Of course they are, when he’s only reinforcing the existing narrative that he can’t be bothered to follow his own mandates

Clearly, he decided that he didn’t care enough to skip the trip. But if he was bold enough to go, then he should have been bold enough to say what he’s saying now, which is appearances be damned, I’m visiting my family. He should have been transparent about it before CalMatters caught him.

There’s a difference between daring to go where others don’t but should, as he did in his cheeky Florida campaign ad, and daring to go where others wouldn’t for good reason.

This vacation, while in no way fatal to his big ambitions, was the latter. And maybe he can use these next few head-clearing days off thinking about why he keeps doing both.

Melinda Hennenberger is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee.

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The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect The Press Democrat editorial board’s perspective. The opinion and news sections operate separately and independently of one another.

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