It’s one of the most obnoxious things a famous and/or powerful individual can say: “Do you know who I am?”
Granted, there are plenty of permutations of this unctuous line, but all of them are distinctly unpleasant. You usually hear this kind of talk when someone’s been bumped from a flight or is getting arrested for a DUI.
Blessedly, we haven’t heard it too often during the lockdowns sparked by the coronavirus crisis — which is what makes Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s husband stick out in a very disagreeable way.
Whitmer, as you probably know, is the author of one of the nation’s most stringent lockdown orders. Apparently, however, there’s not much communication in the Whitmer household, her husband doesn’t watch the news or he simply doesn’t believe the rules apply to him.
Whatever the case, Marc Mallory, Michigan’s first husband, is now the center of a controversy regarding his request to get the family’s boat out on the northern Michigan waters by Memorial Day — and his decision to let the dock company know exactly Who He Is.
Whitmer’s family life has come under scrutiny after @GovWhitmer‘s husband tried to use his standing as ‘first gentleman’ to try and get his boat put in the water before Memorial Day.https://t.co/jsqM9lrEDz
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 26, 2020
The governor’s office at first refused to comment on it. Now Whitmer’s admitting that, yes, her husband went down the “do you know who I am?” route — but it was just in jest! J/K, y’all!
A bit of background first: Michigan is reopening in steps and, considering northern Michigan has very few COVID-19 cases, it’s the first part of the state to reopen in earnest. However, Whitmer has made it clear that if you’re not from northern Michigan, you probably shouldn’t be there.
“If you don’t live in these regions … think long and hard before you take a trip into them,” Whitmer said at a May 18 news conference, according to The Detroit News.
“A small spike could put the hospital system in dire straits pretty quickly,” she added. “That’s precisely why we’re asking everyone to continue doing their part. Don’t descend on Traverse City from all regions of the state.”
On Thursday, three days after that news conference, a Facebook post by Tad Dowker — owner of NorthShore Dock LLC — started making the rounds among Republicans in Lansing.
“This morning, I was out working when the office called me, there was a gentleman on hold who wanted his boat in the water before the weekend,” the post read.
“Being Memorial weekend and the fact that we started working three weeks late means there is no chance this is going to happen.”
Oh, but it got better: “Well our office personnel had explained this to the man and he replied, ‘I am the husband to the governor, will this make a difference?'”
After the post went “viral,” Dowker made it private and NorthShore Dock LLC posted a second statement in which the business said it didn’t want to deal with the media regarding the post.
“After a long day of keeping crews running, adhering to the additional safety regulations that need to be in place to operate our small business and fielding calls from customers frustrated with our lagging installation schedule I was told the governor’s husband called asking for install availability,” the post read, The Detroit News reported.
“Up until this point we, as a company, had no idea we installed their dock or boat.”
The post added that Mallory wasn’t disrespectful or unruly, so we can assume he was just entitled.
At first, Whitmer’s office wasn’t particularly interested in answering questions. In addressing the rumor, Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown also decided to append an odd statement about how Whitmer has been threatened, which was somehow connected to all of this.
“Our practice is not to discuss the governor’s or her family’s personal calendar/schedules. And we’re not going to make it a practice of addressing every rumor that is spread online,” Brown said.
“There’s been a lot of wild misinformation spreading online attacking the governor and her family, and the threats of violence against her personally are downright dangerous.”
Well, thanks for reminding us that threats against a politician are sick, but a) did Whitmer’s husband ask for preferential treatment to get the family boat in the water and b) why do “threats of violence against [Whitmer] personally” have anything to do with it?
We didn’t get an answer to b). As for a), it turns out the answer was yes, he did — but he wasn’t being serious, for reals!
“My husband made a failed attempt at humor last week when checking in with a small business that helps with our boat and dock up north,” Whitmer said at a media briefing on Tuesday, according to Fox News.
“Knowing it wouldn’t make a difference, he jokingly asked if being married to me might move him up in the queue. Obviously, with the motorized boating prohibition in our early days of COVID-19, he thought it might get a laugh. It didn’t.”
Oh, and Whitmer wants you to know she didn’t think it was funny, either.
“To be honest, I wasn’t laughing either when it was relayed to me. Because I knew how it would be perceived. He regrets it. I wish it wouldn’t have happened. And that’s really all we have to say about it,” she said.
Leaving aside the fact that whenever politicians start a sentence with the words “to be honest” they’re usually being anything but, this was tone-deaf on so many levels.
Assume it was a joke, which I’m not 100 percent buying into — not when the governor’s spokeswoman gave that word salad of non-denial denial and implied that even covering this story could somehow lead to violent threats against Whitmer.
Why would Marc Mallory think it was particularly jocund, given the political environment in Michigan, to say, “hey, my wife’s the guv, can you give me a break here?” That’s the kind of “joke” that could cause someone’s blood pressure to spike at 80 paces. It’s also the kind of “joke” that leads to controversies like this.
Meanwhile, why would either of them think putting their boat out on the waters of northern Michigan was a good idea? This was in northern Michigan, after all; NorthShore Dock LLC is close to Elk Rapids, a northern Michigan town where Whitmer and Mallory own a house.
Whitmer just lectured her entire state about not going up north if they didn’t have to. After all that finger-wagging, they’re putting their boat in the water in the same place she wants people to stay away from?
This brings up a few salient questions. For instance: Is Whitmer’s husband not too keen on the possibility that she might be Joe Biden’s running mate? Is he intentionally trying to blow it for her?
And let’s not exempt the governor from blame, either. One can assume she had a part in this decision. At the very least, she didn’t sit her husband down and tell him that maybe, given her controversial lockdown orders, this should be the year they stayed at home and played badminton in the backyard instead of boating.
Part of me wants to ask what they were thinking when they decided launching their boat was a good idea. Another part of me wouldn’t bother, since it’s pretty clear they weren’t thinking.
I didn’t need the tale of Whitmer’s boat to realize the governor’s lockdown order is based around the belief that, while intelligent people like Whitmer can make their own decisions, the plebs can’t be trusted to make the right choice for themselves. They need to “think long and hard before you take a trip” to northern Michigan.
State Sen. Tom Barrett, a Republican, may have put it best: “In the Army, we have a tradition that the leaders get in line for chow last behind everyone else in the unit,” he wrote in a Facebook post, according to The Detroit News. “Here is the leader of our state. … Her family is trying to cut people in line.”
Even as a joke, the “do you know who I am?” routine wasn’t funny. It never is. Beyond that, if Whitmer and Mallory want to show leadership and get at the end of the metaphorical chow line, they can darn well forego the boat this summer.
In a year where Michigan residents are foregoing so much, it’s very literally the least they can do.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.