In an effort to discredit and demonize teachers striking for higher wages and better funding for their schools, Kentucky’s Republican Governor Matt Bevin said on Friday that he knew kids were hurt by the teachers’ supposed selfishness:
“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin told reporters outside the Capitol. “I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.”
How he could “guarantee” that was anyone’s guess… But considering how often powerful Republicans say idiotic things these days, the fact that this became a national story tells you just how awful it was.
Bevin is now trying to walk it back. Kind of. In a video posted online yesterday, he apologized to anyone who was offended by his remarks — I guess that means everyone with a conscience — and then gave a shout-out to those who knew what he really meant.
“The words that people say can have unintended consequences,” Bevin said in a video. “I apologize for those who have been hurt by the things that were said. … It was not my intent.”
In his video, Bevin didn’t fully back down from his comments, saying he appreciates people who knew what he was trying to say.
“For those of you who understand what I was saying, thank you,” Bevin said. “I know a tremendous amount of people didn’t fully appreciate what I was communicating.”
The problem isn’t that we’re offended by what Bevin said; he says awful things all the time and the people of Kentucky are used to it. The problem is that we’re offended by what Bevin does, which is make life worse for the people who need government’s help the most.
At least Democrats had the good sense to tell the truth about the matter:
“Governor Bevin claims there was a misunderstanding, but the people of Kentucky heard loud and clear what he said and today’s video shows he still does not comprehend why so many were understandably upset,” [House Democratic Leader Rocky] Adkins said in a statement. “The teachers and public employees he has insulted over the past year deserve much more than this.”
Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of State, joined a chorus of Democratic politicians who rebuked Bevin’s apology.
“Actual translation: ‘Meant what I said. Could have said it better. Sorry, not sorry,” Grimes tweeted.
We know Bevin meant what he said because he’s still blaming teachers for striking and he didn’t say he was wrong about the children being poisoned and sexually assaulted. (It’s not like he read a police report to the camera.)
His views haven’t changed, but he didn’t like the public outcry against him, so he backtracked a bit. That means the strike is working. More power to the teachers to keep the pressure on him to do something useful.