Friday, January 27, 2023


Here are a couple of Politico stories, posted within ten minutes of each other late yesterday afternoon. First, a story about Donald Trump:
Former President Donald Trump is unveiling a 2024 education policy plan, one focusing heavily on the culture war components that have animated conservatives.

The plan, shared in advance with POLITICO, calls for cutting federal funding for any school or program that includes “critical race theory, gender ideology, or other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content onto our children.” It also calls for opening “civil rights investigations into any school district that has engaged in race-based discrimination,” particularly against Asian American students, and promises to “keep men out of women’s sports.”

... Trump also calls for making significant cuts to administrative personnel and the end of teacher tenure and the election of school principals.

“As the saying goes, personnel is policy and at the end of the day if we have pink-haired communists teaching our kids we have a major problem,” Trump said. “We’re at the end of the list on education and yet we spend the most, but we’re going to be tops in education no matter where you go anywhere in the world.”
The quote is pure Trump, Archie Bunker-y and based on statistics that Politico's reporters couldn't be bothered to check. But this is Trump fighting on Ron DeSantis's turf.
Just days ago, meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) — a potential 2024 competitor — blocked high schools in his state from teaching an Advanced Placement African American studies curriculum over what he described as the inclusion of topics like “queer theory” and movements that called for “abolishing prisons.”
You'd at least expect Trump to invoke the call for "patriotic" education in the "1776 Report" he commissioned late in his presidential term. DeSantis tends to be more focused on race and gender, so performative patriotism would at least feel Trumpian. This just feels DeSantian.

Maybe enforced patriotism is in the policy document, but this is Politico effectively issuing a Trump press release and there's no indication of that, so either it's not part of the policy or Trump's people didn't highlight it for Politico's reporter. What's described here just seems like Trump playing copycat.

And it's boring and conventional. We've already learned about the Trump campaign's plan to attack DeSantis on his voting record during his time in the House of Representatives, which is not the Trump style at all. No Republican voter wants Trump to win by being good at politics. Republican voters want him to transcend politics. They want him to be a superhero whose power is solving problems by saying things other people won't say. This is Trump saying things Ron DeSantis says every day.

But the other Politico story says that DeSantis is being boring, too:
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday outlined a sweeping criminal justice proposal that came packed with changes that have long been politically popular with conservatives.

... DeSantis stressed he wanted the GOP-led Legislature to change Florida law to allow juries to administer the death penalty by a supermajority rather than requiring unanimity, which has been state law since 2017. DeSantis has tied this proposal to the case of the Parkland school shooter, who shot and killed 17 people but was spared the death penalty because one of the jurors was against the death penalty.

“One juror should not be able to veto that,” DeSantis said Thursday. “I don’t think justice was served.”

DeSantis also wants lawmakers to crack down on colorful fentanyl pills that look like candy and are commonly referred to as “rainbow fentanyl.” His proposal would make it a first degree felony to possess, sell, or manufacture fentanyl that resembles candy. It would also make it a $1 million penalty for trafficking those pills to children.

... DeSantis also wants to limit who can be released prior to a first court appearance after being arrested. DeSantis wants to give judges more discretion over those decisions.

“We have rejected in the state of Florida the idea you get rid of cash bail like they did in New York,” DeSantis said. “When the policy first went into effect...there was a woman that was arrested, released, and re-arrested four times in seven days.”
This is ... not appalling. It's right-wing justice policy and most of it is grandstanding, but it seems surprisingly within-the-pale. (If you live outside America, the death penalty proposal must seem morally repellent -- the death penalty itself must seem morally repellent -- but three other U.S. states currently permit a judge to impose a death sentence if a jury can't agree on one, so this seems well within our norms.)

DeSantis's proposals are, at best, culture war lite. No libs will be owned. (The "rainbow fentanyl" scare is largely mythical, but it's not as if any liberals are actually in favor of selling fentanyl to schoolchildren.)

DeSantis seems to be doing this so mainstream-media pundits will continue to say that while he's a culture warrior some of the time, he's actually Serious About Governing. If he and Trump keep this up, it makes me wonder whether Mike Lindell or Mike Flynn should get in the race and campaign on pure rage. There might be an opening here.

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