Is Andrew Gillum Too Good To Be True? The New York Times Is VERY SUSPICIOUS.

Post-Racial America

The New York Times ran a piece in Thursday's paper about Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum that started out poorly and kept going full-stupid ahead.

City Hall never did seem big enough for Andrew Gillum.

It was November 2014 — Mr. Gillum's swearing-in as mayor of Tallahassee — and typical accommodations would not do. Traditionally, the city had inaugurated its new government quietly, in its municipal chambers. But Mr. Gillum, then 35, wanted a party. He wanted, colleagues groused, to be seen making a speech.

And seen he was.

How dare Gillum have higher aspirations than mayor of the city that doesn't have a Disney World? Why does Mr. Uppity want to be seen? In Trump's America, "Invisible Man" is a how-to guide for black politicians.

With his upset victory in the Democratic primary for governor in August, Mr. Gillum, 39, has continued on a glide path to the party's upper reaches

The dictionary-mobile defines "glide path" as a "series of events or actions leading smoothly to a particular outcome." When exactly did this "glide path" start? Was it as early as when he was born the fifth of seven children to a construction worker and a school bus driver? Was he cruising to the governor's mansion during all his hard-fought political campaigns? We all recall the "smooth sailing" of every poll predicting US Rep. Gwen Graham winning the Democratic primary by a comfortable margin.

Mr. Gillum's admirers see in him a hybrid of Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama — an authentic progressive who supports higher corporate taxes and greater gun control, calls for the impeachment of President Trump and Medicare for all, and can inspire young and minority voters in a state that last elected a Democratic governor in 1994.

It's unclear what "authentic progressive" even means. Is this a progressive without preservatives or GMOs? Every major Democrat running in 2008 had a proposal for some form of universal health care, and even so-called "corporate" Democrats support higher taxes and sensible gun safety laws.

Yet an examination of Mr. Gillum's record lays bare the central contradiction of his political life: Self-styled as an activist-minded populist, with a lunch-pail upbringing in south Miami-Dade County, he is also an avatar of the capital city he runs — a town powered by ambition, horse-trading and alliances with well-placed power players.

That's ... not a contradiction. Does the New York Times understand how politics work? If you have no serious ambition and can't successfully make deals or alliances with anyone important, you should run for Jill Stein not governor of an actual state. The whole tone of this article with its faint praise and suspicion is an interesting contrast to one the Times ran in August on Texas Senate candidate and my BFF Beto O'Rourke.

Beto O'Rourke was racing left again, insisting he knew what he was doing.
"Hydroplaning there a little bit," he said softly, doing 75 in the passing lane through an East Texas downpour, double-fisting beef jerky in his silver pickup.

This self-assurance was understandable. In his campaign against Senator Ted Cruz, Mr. O'Rourke has been attempting the Texas equivalent of walking on water — winning statewide as a liberal Democrat — without yet losing his balance. There is bipartisan consensus, including from Mr. Cruz, that Mr. O'Rourke could actually prevail in November — maybe — if the blue wave crests just so. And now, 15 days into a 34-day road trip, Mr. O'Rourke was 50 miles from another disarmingly large crowd in a typically red county, primed to cheer his calls for brash progressivism deep in the heart of Trump country.

See, O'Rourke's "self-assurance" is understandable. He's not too ambitious. How could he be when the article literally compares him to Jesus Christ? There's no whiff of cynical suspicion. No, O'Rourke is the real deal -- a "dreamer," whereas Gillum is a slightly shady operator who supported Obama in 2008 and then Clinton in 2016! He also pals around with lobbyists.

The O'Rourke piece also spent a lot of time (rightly) pointing out what a transparent sleazeball panderer Ted Cruz is. The Gillum article only briefly alludes to Ron DeSantis, a Trump-supporting race baiter, and paints the race as one of "dueling futures" for Florida, which is almost full-on dog whistle. The Times sticks Gillum with the "career politician" label -- he's been in public office consistently for 16 years! -- but doesn't bother to contrast that with DeSantis's relatively limited experience. DeSantis is the dangerous, radical choice here, not the guy who is not-so-secretly black.

Let's hope this nonsense doesn't hobble Gillum in what's already a tightening race. If anything, it's a preview of what we can expect if Kamala Harris or Cory Booker run. I'm sure the Times is already sharpening its knives.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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