Winners and Losers – February 19
Tim Anaya, Senior Director of Communications and PRI’s Sacramento Office
Winner: Baseball Fans – With all the awful news we are bombarded with these days, baseball fans were cheered by pitchers and catchers reporting this week to Arizona or Florida for spring training. Now, if we can only actually watch a ballgame in person this year!
Loser: Texas Senator Ted Cruz – This week’s “Get a Clue” t-shirt winner is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. With Texas was suffering from a massive snow storm, statewide power outages and orders to boil water before drinking, Cruz and his family flew to Cancun for a vacation. It’s been a textbook case of political hypocrisy (Cruz joined many in criticizing Austin Mayor Steve Adler for encouraging people to stay home while he himself was away on vacation) and how not to communicate in a crisis. Upon returning to Texas Thursday, Cruz released a written statement in which he, as Vanity Fair’s headline put it, “blames Cancun getaway on his daughters.”
Evan Harris, Media Relations and Outreach Manager
Winner: Earmarks – The “gateway drug to Washington’s spending addiction” could be back in the form of congressional earmarks. Earmarks are provisions directing funds to be spent on specific projects, and before their ban in 2011, were synonymous with corruption and special projects in representatives home states (think “The Bridge to Nowhere” controversy in Alaska or Jack Abramoff).
Loser: Texas Leadership – There’s no telling what the fallout will be from the Texas energy disaster. The reports coming out of the Lone Star state are beyond unbelievable. Portions of the state and large cities without power, house fires and carbon monoxide exposure from indoor fires, burst water pipes, and 12 million Texans under “boil notices” as water may be unsafe for drinking or cooking. Amid the incredible emergency in Texas, there is nothing short of a monumental amount of finger-pointing about who is to blame, and very little leadership or reassurance about when the lights, water, and help is on the way. Like many of you, I am praying for the tough folks of the Lone Star state.
Rowena Itchon, Senior Vice President
Winner: Savannah Guthrie – NBC’s Savannah Guthrie showed that not all of the mainstream media is soft on the Biden administration. She pressed Vice Pres. Kamala Harris hard on her position on whether schools should be opening, given that the science shows that schools are relatively safe. Harris, visibly uncomfortable, dodged the question by saying that teachers should be a priority for getting vaccines. Despite her non-answer, the viewing public got the message.
Loser: Conservative Talk Radio listeners – Conservative talk radio fans lost a giant this week — Rush Limbaugh. Californians can be proud that he got his big break in Sacramento, fertile ground for a budding political commentator. It’s not a stretch that PRI’s own humble podcast, Next Round, owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Limbaugh. May he rest in peace.
Kerry Jackson, Fellow, Center for California Reform
Winners: Donald Trump – Less than a month after leaving office, and just days after winning his second impeachment acquittal, Trump finds himself ranked by Republicans as the best president ever, by a 2-to-1 margin over Ronald Reagan. Among all Americans, he was ranked third.
Loser: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo – Things seem to get worse for him every day. Republicans in the state Assembly have introduced a resolution to impeach him over the COVID-19 nursing home deaths, his coronavirus task force is being investigated by the FBI and federal prosecutors, and the New York Times says he faces a “revolt.” Some lawmakers even want to have his Emmy vacated.
McKenzie Richards – Development Associate
Winner: Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale – While failing power grids have left millions of Texans without electricity and running water in the deadly winter storm, one local hero has stepped up to help those in need. Mr. McIngvale, a Houston furniture store owner, opened his “Gallery Furniture” stores as shelters for the public. They are welcome to use the beds and sofas in the showrooms and are provided hot meals. While the government scrambles to provide reliable electricity and water to those in need, hopefully other true Americans can follow Mr. McIngvale’s example.
Loser: California students – Governor Newsom this week said although progress on school reopening is being made, the negotiation “is stubborn”. Although in-person or hybrid options are available for some privileged families, reopening for everyone remains up in the air. With no end in sight, prescriptions to treat children’s ADHD and depression have skyrocketed over the past few months. Drugging our children to help them cope with distance learning shows how desperately we need schools to reopen. I volunteer with youth and I am increasingly worried for the mental health of our kids. Some of the kids tell me they stay in bed with their laptops all day and see no point in life. For the sake of the most precious among us, I hope that Governor Newsom’s negotiations with teachers and union leaders become less “stubborn”.