TL(PM) DIGEST: DeSantis ignores the cardinal rule—Never Tweet
Plus a Chinese state-sponsored cyber campaign against U.S. critical infrastructure, Biden's debt ceiling bind, and German police raid radical climate change activists
1. DeSantis campaign launch is technically a disaster
What happened? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tried to launch his campaign for president last evening on Twitter, but the event was marred by extensive technical failings that overwhelmed the entire proceeding.
Why does it matter? You only get one chance to announce your candidacy for president—a key moment to explain to party members and the public at large why you are running for the nation’s highest office and why people should vote for you. DeSantis didn’t get the benefit of any launch excitement given his decision to do it on a flawed Twitter platform.
TLP’s take: Americans should seriously question the judgment of anyone who puts their fate in the hands of Elon Musk and Twitter—especially for an event as important as the announcement of a presidential run. Fortunately for DeSantis, people have a 5-second memory when it comes to politics and will forget this soon enough, giving him time to get across his campaign themes that were laid out in other places after the Twitter fail: a more competent and trustworthy Trump policy agenda focused on strict immigration control, fighting “wokeism” in corporations and government, and taking on China more effectively.
2. Chinese cyber campaign targets U.S. critical infrastructure
What happened? State-sponsored Chinese hackers have launched a campaign targeting “communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education sectors" in the United States and Guam since mid-2021, Microsoft cybersecurity experts announced. They say the campaign—known as Volt Typhoon—aims to develop latent capabilities that “could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.”
Why does it matter? This newly-discovered state-sponsored hacking campaign could throw cold water on recent attempts to ease tensions between the United States and China. Moreover, the clandestine nature and targets of the campaign suggests that Beijing intends to use hidden cyberweapons against U.S. critical infrastructure in the event of a severe crisis in the Pacific.
TLP’s take: There’s no reason to let this one hacking campaign derail attempts to put relations between the United States and China back on a more even keel—such campaigns are to be expected from hostile governments like Beijing. But this episode does highlight the important role the private sector plays in America’s national cybersecurity and argues for even closer cooperation with public authorities.
3. Biden in a bind with both Congress and the American public
What happened? As inconclusive debt ceiling proceedings get dangerously close to default, a new Fox News poll shows that Americans will equally blame both President Biden and the Republican Congress if they fail to reach agreement—with slightly more blame landing on Biden (47 to 44 percent, respectively).
Why does it matter? As Aaron Blake argues, Biden is in a far worse position than President Obama was at a similar point in the debt ceiling fight with Republicans in both 2011 and 2013, when a plurality or majority of Americans blamed gridlock more on Republicans. Today, Americans blame both Republicans and Biden at nearly equal levels, with the president taking slightly more blame in the Fox News poll.
TLP’s take: Despite the publicly admitted extortion of the full faith and credit of the United States government by House Republicans, President Biden can ill-afford to allow any default on his watch ahead of a vital re-election effort. Democrats will justifiably chafe at any capitulation, but they should have raised the limit or eliminated the debt ceiling hostage option altogether when they had control of Congress last year. Unfortunately it’s time to take the lumps and move on—if that’s even possible given GOP extremism—and cut Biden some slack for being in a bind not entirely of his making.
4. German police raid radical climate activist group
What happened? German police raided the offices of a climate change activist group called “Last Generation” that’s best known for vandalizing art and gluing themselves to roads, allegedly to raise awareness for their cause. The group is being investigated on suspicion of forming a criminal organization and funding criminal activities.
Why does it matter? Attacks on works of art and public monuments appear to be in vogue among radical climate activists in the United States and Europe these days, supposedly as part of a campaign to raise awareness and urgency about climate change. That German authorities are treating these activists as vandals and criminals suggests the extent—and unpopularity—of their actions.
TLP’s take: Climate extremists do their cause more harm than good by defacing priceless works of art to publicize a phenomenon that most political leaders and ordinary citizens already know about—and indeed have taken significant steps to tackle. Hopefully this sort of climate extremism will burn itself out over time with minimal harm to the rest of society, but law enforcement does need to remain prepared for every eventuality.
Just one more thing…
Legendary pop and rock singer Tina Turner passed away at age 83 at her home outside Zurich yesterday. She’s probably best known for her rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” and the 1984 single “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”