The fact that Kentucky school districts are not forcing children to wait at bus stops or walk to school in sub-zero temperatures is a sign that Americans “are getting soft,” according to the state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin.
The Washington Post reported that Bevin — a one-term, unpopular governor up for re-election next year — commented during an interview on Tuesday with 840 WHAS radio in Louisville that sparing kids from life-threatening temperatures only teaches them they “can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place” when life gets hard and wait for it to stop.
“We’re getting soft,” warned Bevin, who loves posting selfies on social media but has also blocked hundreds of his constituents from interacting with his pages because he doesn’t like what they say about him, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. In case his message wasn’t clear, he repeated: “We’re getting soft.”
But as the Post noted, this arctic blast has “already interrupting air travel and preventing planned deliveries by the U.S. Postal Service”, and by “early Wednesday morning, the bitter conditions had been blamed for at least a half-dozen deaths.”
The radio program’s host, Terry Meiners, appeared to defend protecting the children, saying, “It’s a deep freeze! This is serious business.”
But Bevin wasn’t having it:
Bevin scoffed at the forecasts. “Come on, now,” he said. “I mean, there’s no ice going with it, or any snow.”
The National Weather Service has, in fact, predicted “moderate snow” in the Louisville area, causing “hazardous road conditions” on top of “very cold wind chills.”
Though Bevin conceded that he does “appreciate it’s better to err on the side of being safe”, he immediately qualified that response with the fact that he was “being only slightly facetious” with his previous remarks.
“But it does concern me a little bit that in America — on this and any number of other fronts — we’re sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard,” he said.
“And that isn’t reality,” added Bevin, described as “one of the nation’s least popular governors,” with just 38 percent of Kentuckians approving of his job performance, according to polling published in December by independent firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy. ″It just isn’t.”
The response on social media was swift, and even Republicans in Bevin’s state seemed to think he was off in his assessment:
Jessica Dueñas, Kentucky’s 2019 “Teacher of the Year,” issued a “personal challenge” for the governor in a video posted Tuesday on Twitter. “Please go outside tomorrow,” she told him, “and stand outside for 30 minutes as if you were waiting for the bus, dressed as one of our students would be, because I guarantee you most of our students are not wearing some fancy Patagonia or North Face jackets.”
Another teacher, Tiffany Dunn, also took to social media to share her indignation, writing, “These elitist comments don’t shock me anymore, but they’re still appalling.”
The sharpest attack came from within Bevin’s own party. Republican state Rep. Robert Goforth, who is challenging Bevin in the GOP primary in May, knocked the governor for his elite education.
Another Republican, Doug Stafford — who is an adviser to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul — told Bevin to “hush” about the situation.
The Post said as of early Wednesday morning, Bevin had not responded to his critics.