Opinion briefs: No red meat, no cable news stardom . . . How to get on TV . . . more trampling of state prerogatives

Why isn’t Utah included in discussions of dynamic states? As I flip through the cable news channels, I frequently see stories (especially in conservative media) about states whose economies are booming and that have opened up and reduced or eliminated pandemic restrictions. Their governors are often interviewed and the states are contrasted with Democratic-led states that have more restrictions and whose economies are weak.

But Utah hardly ever gets mentioned. The governors of Texas and Florida, Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, respectively, are mainstays on Fox News, frequently touted and interviewed. But it’s not just the big states. Governors of a few small states like South Dakota (Kristi Noem) are also frequently celebrated.

Truth is, Utah, and also Idaho, are doing better than any of those states, but their governors toil in obscurity. We deserve more love than we get.

The difference, of course, is that Gov. Cox isn’t running for president and isn’t inclined to deliver scathing soundbites blasting Pres. Biden and the Democratic Congress. It takes more than being an excellent leader and presiding over a great economy to get notice on cable news. You also have to be willing to toss out the red meat.

How to get on TV if you’re an elected official. The other day, the national TV news featured Pres. Joe Biden walking across the White House lawn with his wife and First Lady, Jill. Biden pauses, bends over, and picks a dandelion and gives it to Jill. Sweet little gesture. It was obviously too much for the TV news to resist.

It reminded me of a little incident many years ago when I worked for Gov. Mike Leavitt. To get a little exercise, while also doing business, Leavitt sometimes invited people who wanted to meet with him to go on a “power walk” during the lunch hour. He would walk up the canyon road toward City Creek Canyon or down the hill toward downtown and then back up.

The news media decided this was an interesting activity, so reporters periodically asked to go along on the walks.  

On one such walk down Capitol Hill, with a TV camera in tow, a garbage can was overturned near the road with the lid nearby. The garbage truck had obviously come by that morning. The governor looked at the garbage can and said to those walking next to him, “Here’s what will be on the news this evening.” He walked over, turned the can upright, placed the lid on it, pulled it away from the road, and continued walking.

Sure enough, the news item that night was much more about him picking up the garbage can than about the topic of discussion on the walk.

A blatant attack on state prerogatives. H.R. 1, already passed by the House, would federalize voting procedures. The legislation is bad for a number of reasons, but prominent among them is the fact that it would provide for a total federal takeover of the voting process in every state. Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo correctly said in a recent statement that H.R. 1 is an assault on the states. It would “strip states of election authorities guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.” States have jurisdiction over their own elections, not the federal government, Crapo said.  

Utah Sen. Mike Lee said this legislation was “written in hell by the devil himself.” That’s not far off. The national government has been consolidating power for decades, but the usurpation has accelerated dramatically in recent months. If a state is abusing civil rights or suppressing minority votes, the Justice Department should go after that state in federal court on constitutional grounds.

But nothing happened in the 2020 election that justifies the wholesale federal takeover of voting procedures in every state.

Here’s why you sometimes feel crabby. “Animals Keep Evolving Into Crabs, Which Is Somewhat Disturbing” (Headline in Popular Mechanics)