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Marc Mallory learns his lesson

Poor Dr. Marc Mallory. You know, the guy hitched to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

His major objective in becoming the state’s second first gentleman was to stay out his spouse’s way. She would do the state stuff. He would stay in his lane as an accomplished dentist, and the last thing he wanted to be was Dan Mulhern.

Dan Mulhern. You know, the guy who was hitched to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. He was like an unelected deputy governor, and was very hands-on in advising her, oftentimes much to the chagrin of others who did not like the interference.

Marc Mallory is no Dan Mulhern.

He was asked if he kept tabs on what the governor was doing and he offered this succinct and revealing response: “I listen to NPR in the morning on the way to work and I listen to NPR on the way home, and that’s just fine with me.”

And, for 17 months, that worked beautifully, until …

Maybe you remember the story that sucked the good doctor right into the vortex of a full-blown political pratfall that Republicans and even President Donald Trump exploited.

It was the week before Memorial Day, and Mr. First Hubby’s assignment was to put the boat dock in at the first family’s summer cottage. He called a Traverse City company looking for help and was told in no uncertain terms that the schedule was packed and he would have to wait … at the back of the line, thank you very much.

In an email to the dock guy, the doctor explained who he was and the clear insinuation was he deserved a spot at the front of the line, thank you even more.

The attempt to move up in the queue did not sit well with the dock owner, who might have been a Republican (isn’t everybody north of Clare?). He told the media about the email, and then the you-know-what hit the fan, plummeting the governor’s team into full-throttle damage control.

The explanation from the governor was that her apolitical husband was merely joking, not trying to pull rank.

The story — painfully for the governor — went on for about a week, and never once did the first gentleman add his 2 cents to the storyline. He probably pulled out a few wisdom teeth to work out his frustrations and left the cleanup work to the pros.

But now comes the doctor with his first public statements on the whole shebang.

With his wife sitting next to him during a statewide Michigan Public TV appearance, he broke his long silence.

“It was interesting and surreal,” he began. “I made a feeble attempt at humor, and it fell flat.”

It’s a good bet that what followed was a well-rehearsed response, since the guv’s team had to know the question was coming.

“It was wrong. I regret that I said it. I wish it hadn’t happened,” he goes on.

He reports that he violated a rule that his kindergarten teacher taught him: “She told me, ‘Marc, keep your mouth shut and don’t impulsively blurt out the first funny thing that enters your head.'”

At the time of “dockgate,” some did not buy the “joke” excuse, but, checking around with some folks who have known this guy for years, they report, “That is him. That’s his kind of humor.”

And he concurs: “You have it. It’s not the first time I put my foot in my mouth, and won’t be the last time.”

And, with that, the governor unmutes: “We’re going to make plans to make sure it was the last time.”

And now she is not smiling.

She reveals that all this was a teaching moment for the whole family.

“My husband, one of the things I love about him is his great sense of humor, but I did say to him, to my girls, and the whole team, you know, this is a serious moment (coming in the midst of the pandemic),” she said. “We can’t be caught, you know, not taking it very seriously, and this was an example why this was important to recognize.”

You could tell he was really remorseful about doing exactly what he desperately wanted to avoid: Being a political burden to his wife, the governor.

“I was reminded that words matter, and it was a lesson learned again. We’ve all moved forward,” he turns the page.

The interviewer, however, forgot to ask if he ever got the dock in before Labor Day.

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