restaurants maybe shouldn't have to make their staffers reach for the soap:
1) Speechmaking is hard. Thom Tillis is not a dumb man. He can work his way in and out of policy particulars with the best of them. Yet there he was Tuesday with a Class A Washington Uh-Oh. He grossed out America with mental pictures of restaurant staffers handling their food after a soap-free trip to the restroom. Even worse, he proposed replacing one regulation (a sign requiring handwashing at restaurants) with another regulation (requiring restaurants to say they don't wash hands) all in the name of smaller government.
What happened here? Our theory: He tried to go off-script a little. He wanted to be a little funny. He wanted to be a little bold. So he veered from the prepared notes and thoughts that politicos bring to these forums. It's certainly not the first time he's blurted something less-than-smart or tried too hard to impress his audience.
It's also a reminder: It's hard to stand in front of audiences, be intelligent, keep things interesting, and say what the people want to hear. Politicians who do it well should be admired for their smarts, not ridiculed for their smoothness. Tillis is thoughtful and forthright, but too quick to freelance. Given the national ridicule he invited Tuesday, we're guessing he'll be a quick learner, too.
2) Tillis is wrapping a good idea in bad packaging. The good idea is to take a thoughtful look at regulations. See which of them might be duplicative. See which might be unnecessary. (Is encouraging handwashing unnecessary? If you've ever worked in a kitchen, you'd say no.) The bad packaging is "small government," because the goal behind looking at regulations shouldn't be to reduce the size of government, but to make government work better.
This is the trap Republicans too often find themselves in with regulations. They could sell a solid outcome - improving government - but they chain themselves to the sexier outcome, making government smaller. Tillis got tangled in the latter yesterday, then compounded his mistake by proposing something that didn't even make government smaller.
One more takeaway: With all this talk about handwashing Tuesday, we couldn't help but remember one of our favorite grumps, Charlotte's Robert D. Raiford, proposing that we all never shake hands again.
Peter St. Onge