This is an opinion column.
It’s a shame. Really. A sham, too.
“[We’re] here to do business, not politics.”
That’s what our governor said. It’s what Kay Ivey said almost three weeks ago when asked if the anti-gender equity laws she’d just signed might negatively impact the state. Might cause business leaders – those who value the right of families to make their own medical decisions – the right of young people to use the bathroom that aligns with the gender with which they identify, if her signature might give them pause about planting their company’s flag in our intolerable state.
She was in Mobile County that day. Near Theodore, touting two companies that are planting seeds in the new South Alabama Logistics Park (SALP) complex. DC Safety, one of the businesses, is moving its headquarters to the complex from New York City.
“[We’re] here to do business, not politics,” she said then.
Now, she’s doing politics, not business. Not the business of her office. Not honoring her office.
It’s a shame. And a sham.
The president of the United States is coming to Alabama. A president loathed, fair word to use, by a preponderance of Alabamians. Still, he’s coming.
A president who couldn’t win this state in an election if he ran against air. Polluted air even.
Still, he’s coming.
To do business.
Read more on Biden’s Alabama visit:
Big Mac’s and Tacky’s: Revisiting presidential visits to Alabama
What brings President Joe Biden to Republican-dominated Alabama?
‘It won’t sway opinions: Weighing in on Biden’s Alabama visit
President Joe Biden is slated to come to Alabama Tuesday—to rural rural uber-Republican Pike County. He’s coming to tout the good folks at the Lockheed Martin plant near Troy, where 600 employees build missiles that are helping Ukrainians battle Russian military tanks attacking them. (They reportedly claim to have destroyed more than 1,000 Russian tanks.)
Biden is coming to Alabama to do business. Presidential business.
Yet rather than honor the business of her office and welcome him to our state—a rare happening for Alabama, no matter who’s inhabiting the West Wing—Ivey is doing politics.
Petty, petulant, penny-ante politics.
Her person told us last week the governor has “prior commitments” and “will not be involved” in the visit.
The commitments were not revealed. Not surprising, since there are very few “commitments” that don’t merit a governor shuffling when a sitting president comes to your state.
Maybe she believes Biden’s seen her re-election ads—which could make anyone believe she’s running against the POTUS, not Alabama candidate. Maybe he’s seen them and is coming down for a debate.
Of course, Ivey doesn’t show up for those, either.
The snub is truly a shame. And a sham.
We’ve long been a two-part nation, yet one that historically respects the office, no matter the officeholder’s political lean. Even here. Even in Alabama.
On June 14, 2010, my colleague John Sharp recently reminded us, Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, broke bread (well, actually crawfish tails, royal reds, fried pickles, crab claws, and seafood salads) with President Barack Obama, a Democrat, at Tacky Jack’s on Orange Beach. (The city’s mayor, Republican Tony Kennon, joined them.)
The president was here to connect with state officials after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill that would ultimately cost Alabama $3.3 billion in economic output—lost earnings and jobs—according to the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Business.
Business, not politics.
Five years later, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley joined President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at an event at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Blood Sunday when state troopers attacked peaceful unarmed marchers as they attempted to walk to the state capitol in Montgomery for equal voting rights.
History, not politics.
Alas, of course, these are not times that honor dignity or decorum. Even less so amid our childish, banal election season.
It’s politics over position. Petty over purpose.
That’s a shame that makes a sham of our state’s highest office.
More columns by Roy S. Johnson
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Squash NFL naysayers, Colin Kaepernick, play in the USFL
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Roy S. Johnson is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary and winner of 2021 Edward R. Morrow prize for podcasts: “Unjustifiable”, co-hosted with John Archibald. His column appears in The Birmingham News and AL.com, as well as the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register. Reach him at email@example.com, follow him at twitter.com/roysj, or on Instagram @roysj.