Re-Election Reality

When it comes to octogenarian President Joe Biden’s re-election run, his approval ratings are an obvious issue. They are nothing, to be sure, that the Dems would approve of—but, then, he has won the passage of meaningful legislation requiring pandemic relief, infrastructure funding and climate-change measures. It won’t necessarily heal “the soul of the nation,” as Biden promised in 2019, but it does help position him to, as he recently underscored, “finish the job” and protect our citizenry from Trump’s Amerika.

And it would help if Vice President Kamala Harris uses her forum to make the galvanizing case on the abortion issue.

And who knows? Trump—being Trump—could wind up going third-party rogue and do for Biden what Ross Perot did for Bill Clinton.

Targeting Sanity

In the aftermath of another mass shooting, Texas is looking at raising the age to buy AR-style assault rifles from 18 to 21. But a much better way to at least limit massacres—assuming that’s the motivation—is to not allow any assault-type weapons at all, unless you’re law enforcement. Being over 21 in these divisive, hate-themed times doesn’t preclude crazies and de facto terrorists from maxing out on a murderous rampage. Gov. Greg Abbott surely knows that. Surely.

Dem Notes

* President Biden signed an executive order that creates the White House Office of Environmental Justice. The order would help ensure that poverty, race and ethnic status do not lead to worse exposure to pollution and environmental harm.

* Signs of a resilient labor market: The unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent in April—matching a 54-year low.

* The Biden-Harris 2024 re-election campaign has formed a National Advisory Board of 50 leading voices in the Democratic Party who will help deliver the Administration’s message and engage voters across the country. NAB members include South Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones and U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost of Orlando. Jones is the first openly LGBT, black senator in Florida and a member of the DNC. The 26-year-old Frost is the first member of Generation Z elected to Congress.

* Heads up, Democratic-leaning Senate and wild card West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—in well-noted defiance of Donald Trump—has recruited West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to run for Manchin’s Democratic seat.

* The president looked and sounded the part he needed to play at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, including passionate, unequivocal support for the role of journalism in a democracy. It also helps that as an aging, engaging president, he also has a sense of humor—as exemplified in his constitutional reference to his “good friend Jimmy Madison.”

* Speaking of the WHCD, it’s in part a forum that—because of some zinging humor—requires a president to give as good as he gets. Cheap laughs are accepted–and expected. It’s also a reminder that in America we don’t put our president on a pedestal. No surprise that Trump, the pathological narcissist, was a presidential no-show during his tenure.

It takes me back to the ‘70s when I was in West Berlin and heard locals referring to the tippling West German Chancellor Willy Brandt as “Schnapps Willy.” It was a good-natured kind of egalitarian ribbing of somebody they liked. You can bet that nobody on the other side of the Wall ever referenced Erich Honecker in such a funny, fun fashion.


* Civil war”: the ultimate oxymoron. Other notables: “Truth Social” and “Pat Boone/’Tutti Fruiti.’”

* You can go to the Y and swim, but you can’t go to the A&P.

* Still a favorite spoonerism: “It’s kisstomary to cuss the bride.”

* Business names that resonate: United Skates, The Sod Father, Edifice Wrecks, Plant Parenthood.


* “DeSantisLand”: Now spotted on T-shirts and flags by those backing DeSantis’ bullying of Disney. In short: Don’t say gay, no matter how Goofy that seems.

* Gov. Ron DeSantis says Disney’s lawsuit is political. Oh.

* U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee, the Brandon Republican, was the first Florida member of Congress to endorse DeSantis for president in 2024.

* Gov. DeSantis: “We want education and not indoctrination.” Who knew?

* Signs that underscore DeSantis’ strategy to separate himself from Trump: “Vote For DeSantis. He Doesn’t Assault Women.”

* Rolling Stone: “DeSantis brags about Florida budget that includes billions in federal funds he opposed.”

* “Politicians who are willing to break the law to get votes or applause are extremely dangerous to our nation.” Twice-elected–and then ousted–Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, a critic of Gov. DeSantis.

* “It’s all about the Ron DeSantis show. … It takes a toll on the culture of (the Legislature) and I’ve heard some lamenting of that.” State Representative Fentrice Driskell, of Tampa, the Democratic minority leader.

* “In the end, governor (DeSantis) … it’s not Jefferson or Madison or Patrick Henry you resemble. It’s King George III.” Charles B. Dew, Williams College history professor emeritus.

* Only two states don’t require a unanimous jury on death penalty cases. The other one is Alabama.

* Scott Atlas, a top adviser to Donald Trump, was named commencement speaker at New College. Steve Bannon was unavailable.

Tampa Bay

* The new normal. Voter registration in Hillsborough County: Democrats—333,691; Republicans—292,621; Others—298,937. There was a time when “others” didn’t come close to exceeding one of the two major political parties. But one political rule of thumb hasn’t changed: turnout is still the difference maker.

Media Matters

* Fox News prime time ratings dropped 18 percent during the first quarter. Even worse were CNN’s ratings that declined 34 percent during the same period. MSNBC dropped 8 percent.

* Classlessness update: “We’ll be back Monday…see you then.” That was *ucker Carlson, seemingly unaware on a Friday that he was about to be summarily fired by Fox News for his role in the defamation case with Dominion Voting System—the one that Fox settled for $787.5 million. But a summary firing? You’d think he was the only Fox trotter who believed that reality had a liberal bias.

* “Fox without Carlson means some of the worst elements on the right have lost a megaphone.”–Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch.

* “What Do We Need Men For?”–Title of E. Jean Carroll’s 2019 book.

* “Faction”: Author Alex Haley’s term for the blending of fact and fiction.

* The internet–not books–is a threat to kids.

Sports Shorts

* Unforced error: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred keeps underscoring his support for a Tampa Bay Rays stadium deal. But like so many other clueless outsiders, he keeps referencing “Tampa” when he means Tampa Bay. Get it right, Commish; it’s that important to the Tampa Bay market.

* When the Rays were 20-3 and just off an 8-3 win over the Houston Astros, the defending World Series champions, they drew a Trop crowd of 9,916. No, that’s not a 4-figure misprint for the team that opened the season on a historic tear and had the best record in all of Major League Baseball.

* The Rays, however, did draw 32,142 for a game against the Yankees. The crowd, of course, was not all Rays’ fans.

* Yes, the Rays have scheduled some upcoming post-game, Trop concerts. But, no, Taylor Swift isn’t one of them.

* “I would say this is probably the worst (salary cap situation) we’ve had.” Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBoise, on the challenges the Bolts face in staying in the Stanley Cup hunt.

* “I don’t think you’ll find very many student-athletes who want to be employees. I think student-athletes want to be student athletes.”–NCAA President Charlie Baker.

* When it comes to athletes coming to the White House to celebrate victory, it should be limited to those who represented the U.S.–not a professional franchise or a particular university–in international competition, such as the Olympics or World Cup.

Trumpster Diving

* If Trump were to be (re) elected, he would be a one-term lame duck. How scary is that?

* Now add this to Trump’s nefarious, presidential precedents: The first U.S. president found liable by a jury in a sexual battery case.

* “Republicans … have been hostage to a single politician obsessed with past grievances and lies, and no plan to get unstuck.”–GOP political consultant Alfredo Rodriguez III.

* “Donald Trump is a TV star, nothing more, nothing less. Let me suggest to you that in putting him back in the White House, the reruns will be worse than the original show.”–Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

* “Breaking News”: Trump made his prime-time return to CNN, the network he has branded “fake news”–for the first time since 2016. The occasion was a town hall in New Hampshire that turned into a dismissive, disastrous MAGA rally, fact-check hell and an exercise in candidate and host (Kaitlin Collins) continuously talking over each other. He also labeled Collins a “nasty person.” Inappropriate, appalling applause and laughter complemented the odious optics provided by Trump, ranging from lies about a “rigged election” and political “witch hunts” to “how our country has gone to hell,” how he “did finish the Wall” and how “Drill, baby, drill” is his economic mantra.

We know CNN is struggling right now and needs a ratings boost. We also know that America does not need a replay of 2015-16 when mainstream media helped elect Trump by interrupting programming to show his cult-figure, echo-chamber rallies.

* How ironic that the arrogant, unhinged, undisciplined, undemocratic Donald Trump acts worse than the leader of any “*hithole country.”

* “(Trump) does not have the ability for strategic thinking and linear thinking, or setting priorities or how to get things done in the system.”–William Barr, former attorney general in the Trump Administration.


* “Character is destiny.”–Greek philosopher Hericlitus.

* “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”–Saul Alinsky.

* “No matter how the international situation evolves, China will work with Ukraine to advance mutually beneficial cooperation.”–Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.

* “It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency.”–WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

* “Vaccines are the most rigorously tested medicine on the planet.”–Shetal Shah, M.D., chairman of the national Pediatric Policy Council.

* “Three chords and the truth—that’s what a country song is.”–Willie Nelson.

* “Civics and history are the foundations of an informed and engaged public. And the signs are unmistakable that those foundations are crumbling.”–St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

* “This is an earthquake at Fox News.”–Frank Cesno, former CNN White House correspondent and bureau chief, on news of the Dominion settlement and *ucker Carlson’s firing.

* “Compromise is not necessary in our politics, but it is in governing.”–Former Florida Republican Congressman David Jolly.

* “Forgive your enemies but never forget their names.”–John F. Kennedy.

* “DeSantis was billed as a less chaotic version of Donald Trump. Instead, he declared thermonuclear war on a cartoon mouse.”–Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel.

* It makes no sense that residents of a donor state should see their (flood-insurance) premiums increase.” Sen. Rick Scott.

* “Whenever people shield their children from the truth, a generation of ignorance is born.”–Florida state Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa.

* “The ‘anti-woke’ platform may play well with Republican base voters. But come the general election in 2024, it’s hard to see combating ‘wokeness’ driving vote choice.”—Rich Thau, The Bulwark.

* “The county (Pinellas) and the city (St. Petersburg) are really working beautifully together. So that’s part of the reason why we’re all optimistic.”–Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg.