I’ve written time and time again that “The Wire” is not just the greatest television show of all time, but arguably the greatest singular piece of art — across any medium — of the last 25 years.
With coronavirus keeping most Americans indoors, some with reduced or no work left, television bingeing is at an all time high, giving viewers who might have missed it a chance to take in the critically acclaimed HBO series.
Viewership of the series nearly tripled in late March. Some are seeing it for the first time, others, like me, are re-watching
Each time I rewatch “The Wire,” I tend to watch it from a different perspective. In fact, during my coronavirus re-watch I actually started with Season 5 (which is underrated in hindsight), because of its focus on the decline of journalism.
I also focused on Tommy Carcetti, the former Baltimore City Council member turned Mayor and then, later, Governor because, well, he bears a passing resemblance to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Right now, I wish DeSantis was a little more Tommy Carcetti.
Carcetti was a confounding character, one whose moral arc moves from hopeful reformist to craven opportunist who ends up eating the figurative bowls of shit a former Mayor warned him he would have to eat.
For the uninitiated, those are the chaotic challenges elected officials face day in and day out with unrelenting persistence.
Yet, along the way, Carcetti delivers a handful of magnificent, empathetic speeches that many of us wish more politicians would deliver.
While some lack substance — his speech on cracking down on crime offered no actual solutions — the speeches are marked with a kind of exuberance and optimism, peppered with a touch of authority, that draws in constituents, makes them feel safe or cared for or hopeful.
In one speech, Carcetti delivers an impassioned plea for the city’s homeless, closing with a moral zinger arguing that society judges politicians “not by the efforts we make on behalf of those who vote for us or those who contribute to our campaigns or those who provide for our tax base” rather they will be judged “by what we provide to the weakest and most vulnerable.”
That’s why I wish DeSantis would find his inner Carcetti and show a little empathy for the hundreds of Floridians who have been felled by COVID-19.
Not just the ill or the dead, but those who are facing unprecedented financial hardship. In his apparent haste to reopen the state as soon as possible, DeSantis could leave behind those most vulnerable — the elderly and infirm.
Tuesday’s press conference was trademark DeSantis — one part world-weary Navy veteran, one part policy nerd, one part Trumpian acolyte.
He talked about a lot. The media. The media some more. He talked about nursing homes and the National Guard. There were a lot of numbers, offered without context like, is x-amount of gloves a lot or a little?
There was talk about obesity, about Tiger Woods, about pro wrestling.
Yet despite the Governor’s hellbent efforts to keep churches open, not once has he asked Floridians to join him in prayer.
I get DeSantis has a lot on his plate. A lot.
But where is your empathy, brother?
You, Gov. DeSantis, have taken plenty of opportunities to catch negative headlines. Wearing one glove instead of two. Claiming kids don’t die from coronavirus. Pedaling an unapproved treatment for COVID-19.
If you have time for gaffes, or pandering to the President and his base, surely you have time for a moment to reflect on the human cost.
Carcetti sure would.