top of page

“That Woman from Michigan”

By Merrill Hansen

Gretchen Whitimer

Donald Trump considers himself an expert on women’s looks. Good hair is important (“Hair is my thing”), and he absolutely frowns upon lip implants. But there is something Trump hates more than a woman with bad hair and lip implants--a strong, attractive woman with brains. That goes doubly for one who is on Joe Biden's short list of possible vice-presidential running mates. That's Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan: great hair, no lip implants, and very smart.

While Trump was still treating coronavirus as a little glitch in his re-election campaign plans, Whitmer was fighting to get protective supplies for healthcare workers in hospitals in her state that had almost reached capacity. Michigan has the third highest death rate from coronavirus among the states. Whitmer didn't give a damn about Trump's misogyny, and she'd rather eat dirt than refrain from criticizing him publicly if he deserves it. So she did just that, and not surprisingly, Trump retaliated. By his own standards, though, he couldn't make fun of her looks, so he dismissively referred to her as "that woman from Michigan.”

Gretchen Whitimer & Donald Trump

To his obvious annoyance, she wore that label with pride. (She certainly didn't want anyone to think she was the Governor of Georgia.) Finally, Trump settled on calling her Gretchen "Half” Whitmer, which she probably found amusing, considering that he may really believe that "wit" is spelled "that way. Trump also retaliated by interfering with the Michigan governor’s ability to get supplies and ventilators from the companies with which she had contracted. His refrain--"I'm not going to help people who don't appreciate me-- was reminiscent of parents whining that they slaved all day to keep a roof over their kids’ heads and nobody appreciates them.

But Whitmer was shrewd. Because Trump was putting her in the spotlight, every cable show wanted her as a guest. Not wanting to do the limbo rock with Trump ("how low can you go?"), she talked about what shewas doing to battle the virus, and everyone could see she was not only smart and attractive, but she was witty. She even landed a spot on “The Daily Show,” and wore a blue THAT WOMAN FROM MICHIGAN T-shirt that probably outsold Trump MAGA hats the next day. While Trump's aides were begging him to stop speaking at coronavirus briefings, Whitmer was becoming a darling of TV news.

Unable as usual to admit defeat, Trump decided to go another round. He urged his loyalists to gather in Michigan’s capitol, Lansing, to protest Whitmer's stay-at-home order with its new restrictions. Republican organizations and operatives, including those with big donor money ties, mounted a protest event that looked more like satire. Protesters came with assault weapons, Confederate flags, Trump 2020 banners and Nazi signs. Because the demonstrators were there to defend their constitutional right to spread a deadly virus, most of them refused to wear masks and glove. They even blocked ambulance entrances at hospitals. In her deft handling of the situation, Whitmer won the ultimate cultural prize when “Saturday Night Live” did a skit portraying the poised Michigan governor chilling out with a few beers.

Michigan Shelter in Place Protests

While all of this was playing out, I was a statistic myself, one of the thousands of coronavirus cases in Michigan, scared witless I could become an even more dire statistic. I already was a fan of Governor Whitmer, but now I was certain that she was going to do everything she could to control the virus, even though she would have to suffer the wrath of others. She did exactly that, magnificently. The protesters' way of thinking is completely foreign to me. So when they took to the streets to protest against Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, I found myself wondering how many of them would suffer in silence if they, or their family members got the virus. Who would they take to the streets to blame then? Not "that woman.”

Merrill Hansen is a legal assistant, living in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She describes herself as a frustrated writer, who wishes she could be Nora Ephron (when she was alive), if only for a day. She is a news-, political- and FB-junkie, a combination that requires a constant reminder that she needs to take deep cleansing breaths when responding to people who don't agree with her.



bottom of page