I consider Nancy Kaffer one of my favorite columnist in Michigan. And I’m glad we’re on the same wavelength when it comes to Michigan state House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s ignorant and sexist comments about Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel–both Democrats.
As I talked about on this week’s Left of Lansing podcast, AG Nessel declared the lame duck-passed GOP bill that essentially gave the green-light to Enbridge Energy to construct a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac to keep aging Line 5 pipeline operational.
The tunnel is 65 years old, and is 15 or so years past it’s lifetime.
Rather than just agree with a majority of Michiganders’ who want Line 5 shutdown for good, former Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his Republicans quickly passed a bill to give Enbridge the power to build the tunnel.
Whitmer and Nessel ran in opposition to Line 5. So, naturally, they are somewhat following-through with their campaign promise.
Nessel ruled the lame duck GOP bill unconstitutional, saying the bill’s intent didn’t match the title of that bill. Whitmer, then ordered all work on that tunnel to cease and desist.
Now, Whitmer hasn’t ordered for Line 5 to be shutdown. I hope she eventually does follow through with that campaign promise. But thanks to that GOP lame duck bill, Snyder tried to block Whitmer from making such a decision.
Whitmer and Nessel are using the constitutional tools at their disposal to fight back against the bill. They are relying on science evidence in their determination that Line 5 may not be worth it. Considering the tunnel project could take a decade to complete, leaving Line 5 exposed in the Straits just doesn’t sound like solid environmental and policy.
Speaker Chatfield knows this to be true. It was his party who rushed-through a bill at the last second to try to block Whitmer from doing the right thing for Michigan’s environmental future.
But rather than admit as much, Chatfield chose to go to the gutter, declaring that both Whitmer and Nessel were acting “emotional” on the issue.
Here’s Kaffer calling-out Chatfield’s sexist behavior:
To recap: a newly elected governor and attorney general did exactly what they said they would on the campaign trail, within their respective constitutional purviews, with the apparent end goal of getting Enbridge back to the bargaining table.
None of which strikes me as particularly emotional.
But when discussing these relatively unremarkable political machinations, that’s the word Chatfield chose.
It’s disingenuous to suggest that an experienced politician like Chatfield doesn’t understand that “emotional” is a loaded word, when you’re talking about women’s workplace decisions, despite his spokesman’s assertion that criticism of the speaker’s comments is political.
That’s a way to deflect criticism, just like calling a woman “emotional” is a way dismiss her decisions, without engaging on the merits.
That’s the GOP playbook, nowadays.
Since they lack any real serious policies to protect Michigan’s environment–which ensures Michigan’s economic stability as well–GOP leaders like Chatfield can only demean our state’s most powerful political women by using sexist tropes.
But what do you expect from a party in which its leader declares wind turbines cause cancer!
Click here to listen to this week’s podcast featuring my comments on Chatfield’s statement, the Michigan GOP’s lack of an environmental platform, and my interview with Sean McBrearty from Clean Water Action.