Gov. Bryant Lacks Resolve To Practice What He Preaches.

By Keith Plunkett | January 5th, 2019 at 1:38 pm

BY: Keith Plunkett / Editor

Keith Plunkett is a Policy Consultant, Editor, Writer, Founder and Publisher of

Filed Under: Commentary, Contributor, Feature Stories, Governor, Keith Plunkett, Leadership, Mississippi, Mississippi PEP, MS State Government, Opinion, Phil Bryant, Politics

Perhaps it’s an attempt to mimick President Donald Trump’s direct-to-the-people Twitter messages, or maybe Gov. Phil Bryant overdid things during the holidays, spread himself a bit thin and just needs some rest.

Whatever the reasons, it appears the system of review, preparation and response the communications team in the Mississippi Governor’s office has worked under in previous years is not running very smoothly these days.

Surely, had they been provided the opportunity to critique Bryant’s Tweet about the state receiving $10.6 million from the feds for funding of more pre-schools on Wednesday they would have recognized the irony in it, don’t you think?

Here it is:

A major part of what a good communications team does for an executive in a position that places high demands on his or her time, like a governor of a state for example, is to set up a chain of command by which important information is collected, assessed and prioritized.

How that system might be put together depends upon a number of different variables unique to the office and the executive. It’s custom-built, tailored to the agenda the executive hopes to implement, and to the specific talents of those keeping the system moving along. There is a constant responsibility to make sure each individual system component, which literally in this case includes living, breathing individuals, is responsible for their function and operating well together.

Toward the end of an executive administration, especially one who is term-limited, a slowdown within the machinery is not uncommon. It’s natural for staffers to begin looking for avenues to explore and to at least consider their own next steps. Transitional periods between administration can be the most chaotic and stressful for senior-level staff who must find ways to hold it all together, to keep the engine running.

This would likely be some of the same practical nuts-and-bolts management concerns of any comparably-sized office with pressures exerted from quickly changing conditions. It’s ‘Crisis Communications 101’. For some the expected times of increased pressure are understood, they follow a predictable pattern.  There are almost always unpredictable moments, of course. For those times there is — at least there should be — additional predetermined steps, documented for the certainty everybody needs to act swiftly and confidently.

Murphy’s Law

I did my crash course in crisis communications in January of 2011. I found the orderliness of expectation it provided so calming that I kept on diving into the subject for months afterward. I even assisted a number of people over the years since then in building a plan. The security this preparation provides I perceive might be somewhat akin to the assuredness one feels from having a tightly-controlled budget plan in place.

I use the word “might” above to describe the feeling of security because, while I have some detailed knowledge of constructing a crisis communications plan, I have absolutely no such confidence in my grasp of an operating budgeting nor of the details of my spending habits. In fact, this week I’m gathering information to write the first draft of my own 2019 budget plan. I expect to producce a useful budget by the middle of January.

I use the word “expect” above to convey when I will produce the budget because, while I perceive that there “might” be a warm, secure and emotionally satisfying feeling as a result, anyone who has attempted to live within a budget for any length of time can bear witness to the predictability of Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law shows up on my doorstep at very nearly the exact moment my commitment is strongest to get done those things that stress me out a little.

For me, Murphy’s Law also takes the tempting shape of a Snickers bar, Reese’s, and pretty much any flavor of ice cream I can get my hands on when I walk inside a convenience store. Oh, and Honey Buns! We can’t forget Honey Buns.

And they do make those items oh-so-convenient in ‘convenience stores,’ don’t they?

You see, I have no problem winning a battle of wills against cigarettes, or tobacco, or sugary, hard-candies. It’s not a battle at all really. I’m not at all bothered by the idea that I could possibly live the rest of my life and never again taste any of those things. But merely mentioning the term ‘Honey Buns’ has me now thinking how I need to make a quick trip to the store and stock up on a few things that are running low around the house.

Well, as I reconsider it now, I guess that’s not really much of a battle for me either. It’s easy. The junk-food nearly always wins.

Leading By Example

Then again, maybe 2019 will be the year the junk food doesn’t win anymore. Maybe 2019 is the year I stop talking about not spending money on unhealthy, sugar-filled, junk food, and instead I set an example with my actions. Maybe 2019 my two sons will see these principles at work in my actions.

And maybe Governor Bryant will recognize, and maybe the others running for office in 2019 will recognize it, too: you don’t teach the next generation how not to be dependent on government by funding a program with federal government money the state government is itself dependent upon.

Whether we’re talking about dependence on government or dependence on junk food, it’s more than a little hypocritical to speak of how someone else, or of how someone else’s children, should live their lives without first mustering the resolve to heed our own advice.

Antidote: Battling Mississippi’s Deepening Dependence