Friday, May 24, 2024

More And More, DeSantis Is DeStandard

One of our video features today deserves a fuller examination, because it’s part of a pattern which could well change American politics.

Specifically, this was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this morning…

Some background on this – Andrew Warren is a far-left, woke wrecker who’s the state attorney (in other states he might be called the district attorney) in Tampa. He’s been in office since getting elected in 2016, and he’s been a burr in the saddle ever since.

From a puff piece written about him in March at the left-leaning Florida Politics site…

“Social justice warrior” has become somewhat of a pejorative in the political lexicon. But if one were to describe what an effective social justice warrior might look like, you’re likely to get something close, if not exactly, like Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.

Major reforms have marked Warren’s tenure as the top prosecutor in the county, to Hillsborough’s justice system and bullish stance against bills like 2021’s HB 1. The bill, filed in the wake of civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis Police, was a priority of the Governor. Warren called the bill unconstitutional and unnecessary because the state already had sufficient anti-riot laws.

Warren didn’t just publicly proclaim he wouldn’t enforce the law, he refused to prosecute 67 protestersarrested in early June after Tampa protests turned violent. He also sought to expunge the arrests from each person’s record and praised protesters for calling for reform. And the judicial system has so far sided with Warren. Federal Judge Mark Walker in September issued an injunction blocking the enforcement of HB 1. The Governor has appealed, but during a hearing Thursday, each of the three judges seemed skeptical the law would stand. However, a ruling was not issued.

“Since being elected as Hillsborough County’s State Attorney, Andrew Warren has emerged as an important voice on issues of justice reform,” said Ron Pierce, president of RSA Consulting. “He is frequently at the center of these policy conversations at the local and statewide levels, and he has had a major impact.”

Coddling rioters, refusing to prosecute juvenile delinquents, pandering to the gay and trans lobbies and openly subverting state law on abortion has established this guy as arguably the #1 threat to public safety in the whole state of Florida. It’s not a surprise that violent crime is now skyrocketing on Warren’s watch; Tampa used to be one of the safest big cities in America, and that’s gone now.

So what to do with a menace like Warren if you’re DeSantis?

Well, you demand that he does his job. Do it on something simple and easy – Florida now has abortion restrictions which kicked in after the Dobbs case was published, so you put him on notice he has to enforce those. And Florida’s legislature passed, and DeSantis signed, a bill which would prohibit sex change operations for minors, so you tell him he has to enforce that.

Those things shouldn’t be hard for a state attorney to agree to. But Andrew Warren is one of these George Soros clones who makes a practice of ignoring state laws and refusing to prosecute preferred lawbreakers.

And under Florida law, Ron DeSantis can dump him out with the trash, at least suspensively.

So he did.

There’s nothing radical about this. He has the legal discretion to do it, he has the moral and intellectual justification to do it – a DA who won’t prosecute criminals for clear violations of the laws duly passed and enacted by the state is a DA who doesn’t need to be on the job – so he does it.

The Republican pattern for so long has been to sit around and watch Democrat hacks like Andrew Warren grab headlines and solicit feel-good press from their allies in the corporate media at the expense of regular folks. That pattern is so entrenched that somehow it looks radical for DeSantis to step in and put a stop to it.

Check out the idiot Nikki Fried, who seems to be the likely Democrat nominee against DeSantis in this fall’s Florida gubernatorial election, for the reaction that DeSantis got…

“This is a politically motivated attack on a universally respected State Attorney democratically elected to exercise prosecutorial discretion. Ron DeSantis is a pathetic bully. He’s doing this because he wants to be dictator, not a governor of Florida. That’s not how this works, though. This will backfire. We just saw it in Kansas. Florida is a pro-choice, pro-democracy state. If this stands, the people of Florida will put an end to it in November.”

A lot to unpack there. First, Warren’s refusal to enforce Florida law isn’t politically motivated by DeSantis taking steps to get the law enforced is? And second, Andrew Warren might have managed to get himself elected and re-elected in a Democrat city, but he’s not universally respected; he’s hated by Republicans in Florida and particularly in the Tampa suburbs (if you live in the ‘burbs and work in the city, your life and property is less safe because of his hug-a-thug prosecutorial policies, and that has the effect of making you wish bad things upon him). Third, DeSantis might be a bully, but he’s not pathetic; he’s a rising star in American politics and he’s going to beat Fried in a landslide this fall. Fourth, dictators flout the law rather than enforce it, so if there’s a dictator here it’s Warren, not DeSantis. And fifth, Democrats who think the failure of a poorly-written constitutional amendment on abortion in a quirky state like Kansas has anything to do with DeSantis taking action against leftist wreckers are simply showing how out of touch they are.

DeSantis did something else not long ago which shows the way for other Republican elected officials. The Florida GOP held an event called the Sunshine Summit in mid-July, an annual confab for state party leaders, elected officials and activists, and as the highest-ranking politician in the state DeSantis presides over it.

He decided he wasn’t going to turn the event over to left-wing media types with axes to grind against Republicans. The Sunshine Summit didn’t credential “mainstream media” organs; instead it filtered news coverage of the event through conservative media.

And that made noted lefty media scribe Jonathan Chait froth with vitriol and worry…

The DeSantis method has become the state of the art in conservative handling of independent media. DeSantis hardly ever faces questions he would rather not answer. He is gobbling up cash from billionaires and building a presidential-campaign apparatus without exposing himself on even basic subjects like “What is your domestic platform?” and “Did Joe Biden legitimately win the 2020 election?” He is instead enjoying a gusher of coverage in the conservative media that is indistinguishable in tone and content from the messages produced by his own staff.

To the extent he faces news coverage that discomfits him, DeSantis rules it out of bounds categorically. Last month, the Post reported that his spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, had violated the law by failing to report that she had represented a foreign politician and failing to register as a foreign lobbyist. DeSantis called the story a “smear piece,” yet failed to challenge any of its factual claims:

“I am not deterred by any smear piece from these legacy media outlets. The only reason they’re attacking her is because she does a great job, and she’s very effective at calling out their lies and their phony narratives. And so, whenever they’re smearing somebody, you know that person is over the target, and so they’re scared of that. I would be much more concerned with my press secretary if the Washington Post was writing puff pieces about her.”

The tone of the conservative response was captured by the Fox News treatment of the episode, which ran under the headline “Gov. Ron DeSantis to WaPo, ‘legacy media’ after ‘smear’ attempt: ‘We don’t care what you think anymore,’” and which transmitted a glowing account of DeSantis’s attacks on the Post without noting that the story was completely true. The exchange may have advanced rather than harmed DeSantis’s presidential prospects.

Pushaw’s failure to register as a foreign agent is hardly the sort of mistake that ought to doom a candidacy. What matters about the episode is the direction, not the scale. A candidate should have an incentive not to be the subject of an accurate exposé about a high-ranking staffer’s legal violation, rather than an incentive to use such stories to burnish his credentials as an enemy of the enemy of the people.

The incentive structure that is now in place allows Republican politicians to escape any accountability whatsoever. The only “journalists” they deem legitimate are ones who are functionally working for them. They communicate to their base through a news echo chamber that grants them almost unlimited right to violate ethics, norms, or their own promises. The elimination of any standards — except, of course, loyalty to conservative ideology — has an inevitable effect on the quality of their governance. The GOP will function in power like the ruling party in a one-party state. The results under Trump’s presidency were merely a sign of what is to come.

The Christina Pushaw allegation is utterly idiotic. She did work for Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, when he was a stateless person having been thrown out of his country, from 2018 to 2020 – initially as a volunteer, helping Saakashvili raise awareness in favor of democracy and so forth, and then getting paid for political advice. Nothing she did had to do with American policy. She later did register as a foreign agent, but it’s highly questionable whether she had to based on $25,000 worth of payment for a PR gig.

According to Chait, for DeSantis to dismiss this as some sort of a crisis of leadership that his highly-effective and fearless press secretary would not be canceled based on some smear piece involving her prior work is evidence of a strong whiff of lawlessness and tyranny in the air.

Triggering these troglodytes is worth doing, for the simple reason that it exposes them as the hacks they are.

DeSantis does this all the time. But he doesn’t go out of his way to do it. He just uses the power of his office to do things wimpy Republicans have long lacked the stones to do.

Disinviting the legacy corporate Democrat media from the Sunshine Summit is not a controversial thing to do; it’s a judgment call DeSantis is perfectly within his rights to make. They want to make it controversial because they need something they can pin on him, but that only works if he allows it.

And he doesn’t.

Remember, this is the governor who worked with the Florida legislature to clobber Disney over the state’s anti-grooming bill and its decision to play political activist mob against it. That was a masterstroke of pure political courage which brought in $200 million to the Florida treasury purely at the cost of a company run by psychopaths.

And suspending Warren is the same thing. DeSantis can offer chapter and verse in defense of that decision. And at the end of the day what debate there is around it hinges on a tough argument the Left has to make, namely how many laws does a state attorney get to ignore before he becomes a problem for the state’s chief executive?

Most normal people would answer “well, none” to that. The Left then has to explain why some laws duly passed and enacted shouldn’t be enforced…because they don’t like them.

And in the state of a DA, or state attorney, they get to make that explanation while the murders and carjackings mount.

They’re spluttering all over themselves, like Fried is, because they’re built for pillow fights with the Asa Hutchinsons and Eric Holcombs of the world. A Republican politician with the stones to call their bluffs doesn’t compute in their world.

When your enemy exposes his neck, you strike at it. DeSantis gets that. When he becomes the standard within the Republican Party, we’ll have everything we need for the American revival so long overdue to begin.