A Tale of Two Florida Men
A Tallahassee man seeks to shore up his social conservative bona fides as a man from Palm Beach deals with an indictment.
By now, we have all seen the headlines: “Florida man allegedly pulled out machete when karaoke song denied”; “Florida man caught with meth in underwear after leading deputies on chase”; “Naked Florida Man With Dead Deer In School Bus Leads PA Police On Chase.” All these from last week alone.
It might lead another Florida man—from Palm Beach, specifically—to say we need a "total and complete shutdown until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on” with Florida men. That Florida man, also in the news this week for legal troubles all his own and fresh off a brief but eventful trip to his previous home state of New York (I’m told he still has business there), hopes in particular to shut down another Florida man in Tallahassee.
The Tallahassee man has not come out explicitly to challenge the man from Palm Beach, but many observers seem to think he is the biggest threat to the Palm Beach man. And, if his public statements mean anything, the Palm Beach man seems to believe it too. What's more, the Tallahassee man seems not only to be challenging the Palm Beach man from the same side, but from the same lane. Right now, he is gearing up to sign a six-week abortion ban into Florida law.
When Florida’s legislative session began last month, lawmakers in both chambers introduced parallel legislation to restrict abortion at six weeks. The Senate version of the bill stipulates abortion medications must given by a physician in person and bans the use of the “United States Postal Service or any other courier or shipping service” in the dispensation of abortion pills.
Beyond the first six weeks, exceptions would remain for pregnancies caused by rape or incest up until 15 weeks. In order to receive said exemptions, the woman seeking an abortion would have to provide documentation such as a medical record, a restraining order, or a police report, “or other court order or documentation providing evidence that she is obtaining the termination of pregnancy because she is a victim of rape, incest, or human trafficking.” The law also requires physicians to report known or suspected instances of human trafficking, and for minors, all cases of rape, incest or human trafficking to Florida’s abuse hotline.
Along with trimming nine weeks off the permissible window for an abortion, the legislation puts in place more restrictions on public or private entities that might use state funds to circumvent the new abortion laws. That is, unless, “there is a medical necessity for legitimate emergency medical procedures for termination of the pregnancy to save the pregnant woman’s life or to avert a serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition.”
Furthermore, the bill allocates $25 million of state funds for crisis pregnancy centers, institutions that encourage women not to kill their unborn children.
Liberal media outlets responded with the typical pearl-clutching. Vox published a piece whose title can only be described as Orwellian: “The astonishing radicalism of Florida’s imminent ban on abortion.” Apparently, it's radical to pass laws that prevent women or their physicians from killing their unborn children. Being neutral on the issue of dead children is an act of moderation—who am I to say if it's better for a baby to live or die. “In practical terms,” the Vox piece claimed, "this is a total ban.”
Many social conservatives wish it was. After all, if it is practically a total ban, why not just go all the way? Nevertheless, the legislation, and the Tallahassee man’s willingness to sign it into law, is a powerful message for social conservatives nationwide caught between throwing their support behind the Palm Beach man or the Tallahassee man.
Just last year, Florida enacted a fifteen-week abortion ban, a statute the new six-week ban now seeks to replace. Nevertheless, the Tallahassee man and the Florida Republicans he leads increased their ranks in the midterm elections and consolidated their power—power the Tallahassee man is willing to wield. Passing the fifteen-week abortion ban in the third most populous state—which had the third most abortions in the country before Dobbs—and then going on to expand his governing majority was an impressive feat for the Tallahassee man.
Though anything short of a total abortion ban is prone to leave social conservatives wanting, the fifteen-week ban shored up the Tallahassee man’s social conservative bona fides. Returning to the issue of abortion in what is likely to be the Tallahassee man’s last legislative session before declaring his bid for higher office further heightens his credibility; it signals that protecting life in the womb could be a seminal issue for his Republican primary campaign.
Meanwhile, the Palm Beach man has effectively been able to turn his indictment into a rallying cry for his supporters. They’re not after me. They’re after you. I’m just in the way.
For his part, the man in Tallahassee has been supportive of the Palm Beach man throughout what both perceive to be an overtly political prosecution and offered the men’s mutual home state as a sanctuary. The Palm Beach man, however, decided to go to New York for his arrest and arraignment. If he had stayed in Florida, the reality of his prosecution just wouldn’t hit the same, as the kids say.
The optics that have provided the Palm Beach man short term gains is not without long term risks, however. If the two men are set to square off on a debate stage later this year, the Palm Beach man may have just opened his right flank to his rival catty-corner in the state.
A line of attack for the Tallahassee man could be as follows:
When you were wrongfully indicted in New York, I announced I would refuse to extradite you to the partisan authorities in New York. I offered you sanctuary so that you could fight against this process that, given the weakness of the case brought against you, is intended to be its own form of punishment and keep you off the campaign trail at key moments during the primary season. Instead, you surrendered to the liberals who would love nothing more than to see you behind bars.
In fact, you’ve been playing by their rules the entire time. If what you say is true and you did not have a sexual relationship with a porn star, you still caved to demands by her and her currently incarcerated lawyer that she be paid $130,000 to keep her lies out of the press.
While you’ve been dealing with the consequences of your alleged sexual exploits, in Florida, I’ve spearheaded one of the most socially conservative efforts in the nation to prevent others from escaping the consequences of their sexual activity by signing two major pieces of legislation to protect the sanctity of life. The more recent law put into place a six week ban on abortion, and we were able to do so because, while Republicans across the country underperformed, I won reelection in a landslide and Republicans won a supermajority in both chambers of the legislature. Meanwhile, you blamed the pro-life movement for your endorsed candidates’ losses.
To which the Palm Beach man might reply:
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The only reason you were able to pass that legislation is because I appointed Supreme Court Justices to do what many who claim to be much more socially conservative never could: overturn Roe v. Wade. You probably wouldn’t even be governor without the movement I built.
The Palm Beach man also has something the man from Tallahassee does not: a defined sense of place in the fight against the liberal forces staring them down. If given the chance, the Tallahassee man might prove more focused, more capable, and more conservative than the man from Palm Beach. Even still, the liberal establishment will likely walk away with a sense of vindication under the belief they successfully culled the Palm Beach man’s political career. To many Republican voters, that is simply unacceptable, and the return of the MAGA King to his throne is the only thing that might satisfy their appetite for justice.
The trail ahead is long, but it's already a two-horse race. Everything and everyone else is a sideshow or a distraction. In 2024, voters will turn to a Florida man living in the swamp with the hopes of draining it. The only question that remains is which one.