Leave Pam Bondi alone.
Florida’s attorney general should be able to roam public places without a small group of people clustering around her to shout at her.
I know. I know. She’s no saint.
And there’s so much to say.
She’s been unreasonable on gay marriage, wasting nearly $500,000 in taxpayer money to launch appeals far beyond the point of reason. And, yes, she took $25,000 in campaign contributions from Donald Trump when she should have been joining California and New York in a class-action suit against his sham Trump University, which resulted in fraud victims in other states getting $25 million in damages.
And, sure, it’s unconscionable that she used her office to join the Fertilizer Institute in trying to stop a clean-water agreement of the Chesapeake Bay (not even remotely a Florida issue). Or that she did the bidding of the state’s power companies by opposing a voter initiative to expand solar power in the state.
Or that she has been an active co-conspirator in making Florida one of the most regressive states when it comes to restoring voting rights, and an obstructionist to the expansion of Medicaid, which would have given about 750,000 Floridians access to health care.
OK, she has been awful.
But she was elected twice in Florida, and we all get the democracy we deserve. And at this point, she’s term-limited, making her the human equivalent of a pre-existing condition.
So she should be able to go to a movie theater without feeling threatened by a political flash mob.
Over the weekend, Bondi and her boyfriend went to an advance screening of the Fred Rogers documentary “Will You Be My Neighbor?” in Tampa when she was accosted at close range by a small group of hecklers.
On Monday, Bondi appeared on Fox News to talk about the experience.
“A woman approaches me in the ticket line and starts screaming that I was personally ripping babies out of the arms of mothers, and they were videoing me,” Bondi recounted. “And I said, ‘I’m glad you’re videoing this because I’ve never agreed with separating the mothers and the babies.’ And I said, ‘Congress has to act on this matter.’ And they said, ‘No, it’s you.’”
And then in the popcorn line, Bondi said “three huge guys” stood “probably an inch from my face screaming at me every word in the book.”
“One spit on my head,” she said. “I can’t say it was intentional, because he was yelling so loud. I don’t know if that was him just spewing out of his mouth.”
Bondi, who travels with her own Florida Highway Patrol trooper bodyguard, wasn’t in danger and nobody was charged with doing anything illegal. But she got to play up her victimhood.
“They’re bullies, and I’m not going to be bullied,” she said.
See? Using physical intimidation to make a point always backfires, and in the end, it reflects poorly on the mob, not the mob’s target. The people doing the shouting were probably inspired by this new wave of public shaming that has suddenly become the vogue in liberal circles.
This has been most infamously vocalized by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, who urged people to confront Trump Cabinet members in public.
“If you see anybody in that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gas station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome,” Waters said.
This is wrong.
The only good thing to come out of the Bondi episode is the irony that she went on Fox News to complain about her treatment at a screening of a documentary about Fred Rogers, a children’s TV show creator who was called an “evil, evil man” on Fox News after his death.
In 2008, a whole 6-minute segment on “Fox & Friends” was devoted to how the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV show has “ruined a generation of children” because he gave them a “sense of entitlement” by telling them all that each of them was special.
“All these kids are growing up and realizing that Mister Rogers lied to me,” co-host Steve Doocy said. “I’m not special.”
“If you think you’re special, then go prove it,” co-host Brian Kilmeade chimed in. “This narcissism in the society has been growing for 25 years and that man, unintentionally, did a whole generation or two a disservice.”
So it’s special that Fox News now is a platform where conservatives can complain about wanting to enjoy a Mister Rogers tribute in peace.
I’m not sure what Rogers would say about this if he were alive. Maybe something like these words he wrote in his book on things to remember:
“It’s very dramatic when two people come together to work something out. It’s easy to take a gun and annihilate your opposition, but what is really exciting to me is to see people with differing views come together and finally respect each other.”