President Donald Trump has proven time and again that loyalty to him won't be reciprocated if it involves any risk to himself, his presidency, or his political palatability.
The latest cautionary tale against blind devotion to the President comes with Georgia's pro-Trump Governor Brian Kemp.
The President spent weeks signifying an eagerness to see economies reopened despite the viral pandemic, saying things would reopen by Easter and even tweeting for Americans to "LIBERATE" states from stay-at-home orders.
In a move that bucked the advice of health experts, Governor Kemp followed Trump's lead and announced that a number of shops and non-essential businesses would be allowed to reopen on Friday, April 24. In the announcement, Kemp echoed Trump's stance that Americans need to get back to work, regardless of their safety.
The problem? Trump changed course later that same day, throwing Kemp under the bus in the process.
Pres. Trump says he told Georgia Gov. Kemp "I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,” but… https://t.co/3ocJ3NhRII— ABC News (@ABC News)1587595069.0
Trump said at a Wednesday press conference:
"I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the Phase 1 guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia. At the same time, he must do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he's doing."
This left Kemp in the unenviable position of having just announced an irrevocable policy change in line with the President's statements, only to have the President turn on him.
Kemp tried to save face with a series of tweets after Trump condemned his move to reopen.
Earlier today, I discussed Georgia's plan to reopen shuttered businesses for limited operations with @POTUS. I appr… https://t.co/NeVjPduT4Z— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@Governor Brian P. Kemp)1587598824.0
But it was too late: Trump had already made Kemp his fool—and people weren't sympathetic.
Gotta love Kemp re-opening Georgia to pander to Trump whose been desperately lobbying states to re-open, only to ha… https://t.co/RdNyUz2fVH— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen)1587597030.0
It's hard to exaggerate how badly this rebuke must sting for @GovKemp. https://t.co/aGueronoXR— Jay Bookman (@Jay Bookman)1587597404.0
I’m enjoying Trump backing the bus over Brian Kemp.— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@Molly Jong-Fast🏡)1587597080.0
I understand why Kemp and his supporters are pissed. But here’s the thing: If you let Trump influence your decision… https://t.co/qOSq8Dcmjk— Jonah Goldberg (@Jonah Goldberg)1587607843.0
Brian Kemp's abject humiliation at the hands of Trump is only the 4th most hilarious thing I've seen all day.— Rick Wilson (@Rick Wilson)1587607942.0
Kemp is most famous for not resigning as Georgia's Secretary of State during his 2018 campaign for Governor, essentially overseeing his own election. His office purged an estimated 340,000 Georgians from voter rolls, primarily in communities most likely to vote for his opponent, Stacey Abrams. Abrams lost by fewer than 55,000 votes.
People couldn't help but wonder how Abrams's leadership would've differed from Kemp's in such a crisis, and lamented that Kemp's reliance on voter suppression worked.
When GA melts down just remember, Stacey Abrams wouldn’t have done this and Brian Kemp stole that election from her. https://t.co/ZtqqT9VzIe— Jason Karsh (@Jason Karsh)1587415462.0
This is why we cried when vote-suppressing Brian Kemp "defeated" Stacey Abrams. Good luck, Georgians. When your go… https://t.co/eW6efP9XrX— Matt (@Matt)1587417725.0
Brian Kemp suppressed votes, purged voters in Georgia and stole the Governorship away from Stacey Abrams. Now he’s… https://t.co/nfkJwZsP1e— Ricky Davila (@Ricky Davila)1587417614.0
Earlier this month, Kemp revealed that he hadn't known the virus could be transmitted through asymptomatic carriers—a fact that had been widely known for weeks.
For more information about the toxicity of allegiance with Trump, check out Everything Trump Touches Dies, available here.