Five Quick Things: The Suspect Utility of Selfish Politicians - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Five Quick Things: The Suspect Utility of Selfish Politicians
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (a katz/Shutterstock)

This edition of the 5QT will be all over the place, or at least as all over the place as you can be with five (somewhat) quick things. For that, I’ll apologize, though I’m not sure why.

But when you see the disparate roster of subjects enclosed within, perhaps you’ll see why the disclaimer.


1. Selfish Politicians Are a Disaster for Both Sides, And No — They Don’t Cancel Each Other Out

We talked about the Trump–DeSantis mud wrestling extravaganza in a column this week, and just before that, we talked about the Dianne Feinstein mess on the Democrat side. You wouldn’t immediately come to the conclusion that those were related stories, but they are.

What ties them together is selfishness. Our politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are absolutely overwhelmed with it, and it’s making things harder to resolve as a country. These people simply make everything worse.

Because I couldn’t care less about what happens to Democrat pols, I’ll focus on how this is a mess on the GOP side.

The most obvious manifestation of political selfishness comes in decisions on running for office, and this is something Republicans are utterly terrible at getting straight. Just look at some of the people running for president who have absolutely no shot at getting elected.

Nikki Haley. Tim Scott. Asa Hutchinson. As much as I like him, Vivek Ramaswamy.

There is no market for these guys as presidential candidates. Everybody knows that the GOP nominee is going to be either Donald Trump, whose selfishness is notable even if you’re a supporter (which I am, or would like to be when he doesn’t drive me nuts), or Ron DeSantis. And yet these little fish are running.

Ramaswamy at least is presenting a great set of ideas and food for thought among Republican voters. His messages about the need to rebuild a common American identity and combatting corporate wokeness as a tool of Chinese and “Old World Monarchist” domination of free people are big-picture things that Republican voters would do well to consider as part of what the party is about going forward — they’re majoritarian ideas that even find echoes in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s nascent insurgency on the Democrat side.

But he’s not going to be the nominee, and he surely knows it, so he’s doing this for reasons of promoting his equity fund and his books. Those are selfish reasons to run. Ramaswamy is at least offering something in return. What’s Asa Hutchinson offering?

What’s Tim Scott offering? “Hi, I’m a black conservative running for president so I can get 2 percent of the vote and give Democrats a reason to trash my party’s voters as racist.” Thanks, Tim. He’s got a great personal story and he votes the right way most of the time, and everybody likes and appreciates him. But Tim Scott hasn’t done anything to make us believe he’s presidential material, and he hasn’t offered much of anything along the lines of what Ramaswamy has in terms of how to remake the GOP as a majority party with relevant and beneficial ideas on 21st-century governance.

This isn’t just a thing in presidential politics. Here in Louisiana, we’re cranking up a gubernatorial race in advance of the statewide elections this fall, and there are five Republicans running. Most of them have zero shot at making the runoff and have done very little to prepare the ground for such a campaign, intellectually or otherwise. I listen to these guys talk about themselves and their campaigns, and it’s very obvious that it’s about what the voters can do for them rather than the opposite.

And the response to the selfish pols is this: you’re a politician? I don’t give a damn about your problems, and I don’t care what you think I owe you, and I especially don’t care about how your background and personal story, your identity, qualifies you to lead me. And if you make personal attacks on your opponents rather than talking about what you can do for me in return for my vote, my conclusion will be that your character is weak and you’re part of why we’re in decline.

And by the way, we Americans generally pretty much hate politicians to begin with, so mind your P’s and Q’s. Our patience wore thin a long time ago.

And it’s not just me saying this. I checked out the comments under the Trump–DeSantis column from Wednesday, and it was striking how many people said they’d been committed Trump voters but were absolutely disgusted with the tenor of the attacks he’s making on DeSantis.

People are fed up with selfish politicians, and they’ve already started punishing them. DeSantis is catching hell in Florida for thinking about running for president just a couple of months after winning reelection, and while I might well be predisposed to favor him for the GOP nomination, I get it. Bobby Jindal did the same thing in Louisiana, and he left office with approval ratings that had fallen from the mid-70s to the low-20s.

It takes a certain amount of narcissism and ego to run for office, so selfishness is baked in. But it had better be controlled. Right now, that’s not as much the case as it needs to be.

2. SpaceX’s Employees Sure Are a Happy Crowd

The thing about a SpaceX launch is that it’s not much like the formative experiences of NASA’s efforts at manned space flight. At least, not in the spirit of how the company’s tests go.

For example, there was Thursday’s test of SpaceX’s Starship program, which is the company’s platform that will ultimately, as it’s intended, take people to the moon and beyond.

The test was a major success. Starship did all the things SpaceX was counting on it to do; namely, lift off the launch pad and clear the tower.

But SpaceX has an interesting way of handling these test launches. Every time they do them, they build layers of effort into them. For example, they didn’t just see if they could lift Starship off the pad with the heavy rocket assembly; once they’d managed that, they also wanted to see if they could get the second stage to separate and then perform further maneuvers before it fell into the Gulf of Mexico.

And that secondary test didn’t happen. The separation failed and then the whole thing went kaboom. Or, as SpaceX is calling it, a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly took place.

What’s perhaps most notable is that while all of this was going on, SpaceX’s employees were cheering like it was the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. And when the rocket blew up, it sounded like somebody just scored a touchdown to win the game.

They’re a happy bunch. Probably because they understood that this was still a big win, but probably also because they love a good fireworks show. Either way, it’s really cool — but they might want to tone down the enthusiasm over rockets blowing up as they get closer to putting people on one of those Starship vehicles.

3. Kennedy Wipes Out Whitehouse and a Pair Of Tax-Happy Prog Profs

This doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s a great discussion of economics, though, with Sen. John Kennedy tearing apart a couple of leftist economists from the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA on the issue of wealth taxes — and when the obnoxious Sheldon Whitehouse sticks his nose in, he doesn’t make out well, either.

4. Maybe Global Warming Isn’t the End of the World

According to the internet, it won’t be Al Gore’s hockey stick that ultimately melts the glaciers and drowns us all. It’ll be something else that wipes us out.

It’s been awhile since we have had a good “end of the world” theory sprout up out of the internet.

This latest prediction of the apocalypse apparently found its legs on, of course, TikTok.

According to, “a new conspiracy theory saying that an apocalypse of some sort will happen this Sunday, April 23rd has been gaining traction, especially among Spanish-language users, as the main source seems to be the account @lascapsulasdeltiempo.”

Let’s investigate.

According to this theory, an intense solar storm will take place on Sunday, April 23, 2023.

Why would this be bad?

Well, as we reported back in April of 2021, Dr. Mark Morris, a professor of astronomy at UCLA, explained that the apocalypse has a very good chance of being caused by the sun.

Is this likely? I’ll say no. It might be more likely than the paranoid fantasies that the climate change crowd have been hawking. Which is to say very unlikely.

But in case a solar flare whacks us on Sunday and knocks out all the electronic circuitry, reducing society back to the 1870s and resulting in mass extinctions of humanity, let the record show in advance that it was always the sun — and not your stupid carbon dioxide emissions — that held the key to both our survival and our destruction.

That lesson applies whether we’re still here on Monday morning, or not.

5. The Florida Man Genre Reemerges, Sort of, at Netflix, While Paramount Plus Wins With Rabbit/Hole

You might not get much out of Florida Man, the new Netflix show that dropped last week. You might not find Edgar Ramirez believable as a Philadelphia ex-cop named Mike Valentine, given Ramirez’ Venezuelan accent, which doesn’t quite fit and isn’t properly explained. You might also be put off by the snarky anti-gun themes that keep popping up during the seven episodes of the show.

It’s built off of the famous Florida Man internet meme, but it doesn’t quite pay off. It’s not outrageous enough.

The thing is, crazy Florida stories aren’t just social media memes. They’re a literary genre as well. Some of the most entertaining novels you’ll ever find come from Sunshine State authors like Dave Barry and, especially, Carl Hiassen — both of whom were reporters for the Miami Herald. And in the case of both Barry and Hiassen, the dark comedy Florida crime thriller genre was established as an unmistakably hilarious romp in which nothing is sacred, there are no prisoners taken, and the reader is often offended and laughing hysterically at the same time.

If you’ve never read anything by either one, you might at least have seen Strip Tease, a Hiassen novel made into a movie starring Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds, or Big Trouble, Barry’s first novel, which was made into a Tim Allen–Rene Russo feature.

I was hoping Florida Man would rise to that level of hilarity. It’s a decent story, but it just doesn’t get there.

On the other hand, Rabbit/Hole, the Kiefer Sutherland/Charles Dance conspiracy thriller now airing on Paramount Plus, is big, super complex, and brutal. It definitely upholds the tradition of the high-tech paranoid genre built from movies like Three Days of the Condor, Enemy of the State, The Parallax View, and Minority Report. Sutherland plays a high-end consultant who does industrial espionage and other dirty deeds for hire, but an ambitious project goes wrong and he finds himself on the lam as a murder suspect while struggling to unravel a massive plot to perpetrate an American coup d’etat.

Rabbit/Hole delivers on the suspense and the multi-layer story that genre requires, at least through the first few episodes (they’re dropping one per week, as Paramount Plus is wont to do). So far, it’s managed to do so without injecting much in the way of politics, which is nice.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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