UNLIKE previous Alabama governors, Robert J. Bentley is not a fount of oratory. Nor is he a champion of “kinder and gentler.” His dyspeptic refusal to accept federal funds for Medicaid expansion, in a state where more than one million of 4.8 million residents depend on the program, betokens a stunning indifference to the Hippocratic oath. (The governor is a dermatologist.) Yet Mr. Bentley recently took a page from the Obama playbook and used a surprise executive order to remove four Confederate flags from the Alabama Capitol grounds, not far from the very spot where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy.
On the morning of June 24, Mr. Bentley had the flags, and the poles they flew on, removed before either the public or the state’s famously retrograde legislators had time to protest. George C. Wallace — who placed the flag on the Capitol dome in 1963 as a sign of contempt for a visiting integrationist, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy — himself never did a better job of bumfuzzling the lawmakers.