TRENTON – Phil Murphy enjoys joking about drinking. More than once I have heard him make cracks about the tendency of guys named “Murphy” to imbibe. Sure, this is an offensive Irish stereotype, but the governor seems to think it is harmless.
But in the current climate, even silly drinking jokes have their limits.
The governor was said to be quite miffed over the weekend when he saw photos of masses of people in bars enjoying some pre-St. Patrick’s Day revelry.
And he definitely had that in mind Monday afternoon when he announced a series of stricter regulations, including the banning of “non-essential” travel after 8 p.m.
Well aware of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, the governor stated the obvious – there will be more St. Patrick’s Days.
Most would agree. Moreover, most sensible people would agree that the governor and relevant Cabinet members are doing a good job providing daily updates during the coronavirus pandemic.
A politician doesn’t have the capability to stop a virus. What’s important is for the elected official to be as visible as possible; Murphy has been.
Near the end of today’s news conference, the governor mentioned three groups of people who deserve particular consideration.
One was those who are overly anxious. The governor and others urged people to take sensible precautions, not panic.
That’s easier said than done. Surely, when “everything” is being closed and even large house parties are being discouraged, keeping an even keel is difficult. Sadly, there is no magic wand.
Two other groups got the governor’s attention – those who don’t believe the virus is here and those who don’t care.
Unfortunately, those who might see the virus as “fake news” have been getting support from some on the right who see the whole thing as an attempt to hurt Donald Trump. This is unavoidable in hyper-partisan times and stems, in my view, from the president’s own efforts to downplay the virus. How can you forget Trump saying it would all pass in a few days and that a vaccine is imminent?
The governor is not going to convince those who stubbornly adhere to the “fake news” line, nor should he try.
The third group mentioned by Murphy was those who simply don’t care.
More than likely, he had in mind some of the young folk partying in bars over the weekend. Health officials tell us most young people recover quickly if they get the virus. But they apparently do not consider the fact they can infect others whose recovery path is not as smooth.
The governor stressed that these young people should think about what might happen if they visit “grandpa.”
But many young people tend to be unthinking about these things and Murphy’s comments are not going to change that.
Total agreement on anything is impossible. There are times when elected officials simply must press forward.
And as we see from today’s action, Murphy thinks this is that time.