If credibility is currency, Tim Walz is going bankrupt over COVID

Credibility comes from…being credible.

Gov. Walz spends a lot of time during his many press conferences trying to convince Minnesotans to take the COVID-19 virus serious and change their behavior. Last week he hosted another made-for-tv event featuring a number of healthcare professionals, each telling us how serious the pandemic is and each repeating the mantra of “wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick.”

Gov. Walz often comes across as defensive and frustrated, upset that all Minnesotans are not embracing his directives. These moments expose Walz as more political animal than natural leader, when he takes legitimate policy differences surrounding the pandemic and devolves them to crass electoral politics. For example, at a recent press conference Walz said:

“Wear your mask and stay healthy if for no other reason that’ll keep you healthy to vote against me in two years if that’s what it takes.”

Vote against me? Where did that come from? A real window into his soul. While most Minnesotans are thinking about Christmas, Walz has his eye on an election two years away.

But that’s not Tim Walz’s biggest problem when it comes to convincing Minnesotans to comply with his orders and fully embrace the fear he is peddling. His biggest problem is credibility.

“Credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt.” – author John C. Maxwell

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Tim Walz has been heading toward bankruptcy, making bold claim after bold claim that did not come true. Remember the models predicting 74,000 dead if we did nothing and 55,000 dead if we did everything? Remember the morgue to handle a crunch of 5,100 bodies overtaking our funeral homes?

Just before Thanksgiving, Walz and his team held two press conferences in two days deploring Minnesotans to limit their holiday get-togethers to immediate family. Three bold (and scary) predictions made during these presentations did not come to pass, further hurting the Governor’s credibility.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm got it started on November 16, 2020 when she predicted:

“At the current rate cases are rising statewide, Minnesota will see 10,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by Thanksgiving.” 

Turns out we did not see cases explode to 10,000 per day by Thanksgiving. In fact, cases after Thanksgiving dropped to 4969, 3905, 2992, 7211, 5954, 5279, 4452 for an average of 5,000 per day. The current 7-day average is down to 3,700. So Malcolm was only wrong by 50%. But the damage was done with her prediction of “terrifying” case numbers.

Then Gov. Walz added his own scary declarations regarding hospitalizations on November 17, 2020:

“The fact of the matter is, the virus cares about none of those things we like to do and it will simply bring death and destruction overwhelming our healthcare system…that is going to be a cascading affect that is going to exponentially grow over the next few weeks.”

“I would tell Minnesotans – the hospital space is going to become much more of a concern over the next three weeks. That is assured. That cake is already baked.”

Someone must have unplugged the oven because that cake did not get baked. In fact, hospitalizations followed the drop in case numbers, avoiding the “death and destruction” predicted by Walz. There were 1559 people in the hospital in Minnesota with a COVID diagnosis on November 16, 2020. Today, that number is actually down to 1,283.

Coming into Thanksgiving, the Walz administration used the power of their bully pulpit to scare Minnesotans into giving up freedom and changing their behavior because “death and destruction” was sure to follow. It is already “baked.”

But they were wrong again.

Minnesotans notice when bold, scary predictions are made and then don’t come true. They know when they’re being played. Every time it happens, Walz loses credibility and fewer people believe his next prediction or bold statement. Leadership depends on credibility. Walz would be a stronger leader if he made credibility a higher priority in his COVID strategy. If you want people to follow your leadership, you have to be credible.