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The Elbert Files: Kim in Wonderland


I was walking near the Des Moines Art Center when I saw my old friend K.C. His head was down, and he was mumbling to himself, which was not unusual. 
As I got closer I heard him say, “Don’t do it, Kim. Don’t go down that rabbit hole.”

“You mean Alice,” I said as we met. 

He gave me an odd look, so I repeated: “You mean, ‘Don’t go down that rabbit hole, Alice.’ You’re talking about “Alice in Wonderland,” right?” 

He sneered and said, “No, I mean Kim Reynolds. Our governor is making the biggest mistake of her career. She’s following that orange-haired rabbit down his hole, and she’s going to regret it.”

“Aren’t you being overly dramatic?” I said. “Gov. Reynolds is a smart woman. She has to be. She defeated one of Iowa’s wealthiest and smartest Democrats in the election two years ago. I doubt she is going to be fooled by a rabbit, not even one with orange fur.”

“Wanna bet?” K.C. replied. “It’s happened before to lots of people.
“The lure of power and fame does strange things to people. If you don’t believe me, just read some of the tell-all books about Donald Trump by insiders. Omarosa Manigault Newman, John Bolton and Michael Cohen – they all had one thing in common: Each bought into the illusions that the orange rabbit planted in their brains. 

“All of them followed Trump down his rabbit hole, even though they knew, or should have known, that it would come to no good. Every one of them now admits having gone against his or her better judgment only to discover that there was no there there.”

“Now you’re starting to sound like the Cheshire Cat. Or is it the Mad Hatter?” I said. “It’s been a while since I read the book. I confuse the characters.” 

“It’s the Cheshire Cat,” K.C. said. “He’s the philosophical one. The Mad Hatter was just mad, kind of like Roger Stone.

“Gov. Reynolds’ handling of the return-to-school issue has all the earmarks of a Mad Hatter’s tea party,” he continued. “She’s created her own rules that make no sense. 

“First, she goes against the Republican principle that the best government is the one closest to the people. She won’t let local school boards decide what is best for the health of their communities and education of their children. She’s become an autocrat, which is something the orange rabbit might approve of, but it’s certainly not a Republican principle.

“Next, she’s become a science denier, just like the orange rabbit. 

“She set a ridiculously high and totally arbitrary standard for online education in Iowa when she determined that more than 15% of the population of a county must test positive for COVID-19 before she will consider canceling in-person classes and allowing education to continue online. 

“No other state has a standard like that. Most credible medical authorities say 5% is more than enough cause for concern.

“And when she grants in-class waivers to school districts with too many COVID cases, it’s only for two weeks at a time. 

“What kind of teacher does she think can change lesson plans every two weeks from in-person to online and back to in-person at the drop of a hat? 

“The bottom line is that in a very short period she will muck up one of the best educational systems in the country. 

“She doesn’t have the first clue. While districts like Des Moines are experimenting and trying to find a way to bridge the gap, she’s poking them with sticks and raining fire down on them. 

“I take it back,” K.C. said as he turned and began walking away. “She’s not Alice. She’s the Red Queen.”  


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