Email insights: José Oliva cools COVID-19 rhetoric

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Gone is the rhetoric about economic suicide.

House Speaker José Oliva dialed down the heat on talking points in the latest email from his office about the COVID-19 situation.

Previous iterations of the daily missive saw the Speaker link to and embed text from articles calling coronavirus shutdowns economic suicide, pointless and criminal.

On Wednesday, the Speaker led off the email with words of contextualization and maybe even some conciliation.

“To say that we are living in extraordinary times would be quite the understatement. The current threat and the applied remedies have also been extraordinary. The question of how we responded to this current threat and the consequences of that response will occupy leaders for years to come,” Oliva said.

For those who thought the previous emails were a linkfest literary review of contrarian conservative commentary, some words of reassurance also were provided.

“This daily update is intended to provide you with factual information in the form of current data relating to covid as well as relevant information regarding unemployment benefits which are crucial to our constituents in this forced unemployment,” Oliva writes.

While relevant information indeed is provided, the email (at least on Wednesday) lacks recourse for the 40% of Floridians denied unemployment payments, the “forced” nature of their joblessness notwithstanding.

Oliva also addressed his penchant for “links to articles regarding our current crisis.”

“Inclusion of these links do not constitute an outright endorsement of all that is said within the article, rather a means of exposure to thoughts, ideas and observations on a subject that is as novel as the virus itself,” Oliva said.

“As lawmakers we will be tasked, not only with reestablishing the financial order of the state but with preparing our great state for similar threats in the future. One of the multitude of important questions for us to ponder is, if this is the best and only reaction to such a threat can we afford to do it again in the fall, or next year?

“As lawmakers we must question, deliberate and propose. It is not an easy job in good times, it is a far more politically perilous one in crisis, but that is the job. I hope you will find these updates helpful and informative as we help our residents navigate this unprecedented time,” Oliva contended.

The biggest sign of it being a new day in the Speaker’s Office? A link to a story from NPR.

With expectations being that Gov. Ron DeSantis is finally ready to begin rolling back economic restrictions in the coming days, Oliva’s in a position to dial down the rhetoric now. However, the Speaker’s position has been clear throughout this crisis, suffused with worry about the impacts of shutdowns and the fear driving them.

“At what point is the cure worse than the virus,” he asked in March. “We are all deeply concerned but should we all be deathly afraid?”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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