If you live in Pennsylvania and have been scrolling through social media lately, you might be wondering if your attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, has a day job. Every time I click on Facebook or Twitter, I find posts and tweets from Shapiro that seem more like campaign ads than communication from an elected official’s office.
There he is, posting video of the 157th time he spoke to Rachel Maddow about how perfect, how absolutely normal, how completely beyond reproach the last election was in the great Keystone State.
There he is again, standing with a group of women (about 10) protesting in favor of abortion rights and promising he will defend “women’s health care” as long as he is in office (whichever office that might be).
Why, there he is again, promising to file lawsuits against legislators who dare issue subpoenas seeking information on election integrity.
And, amazingly!, he has time to file suit against the Mariner East Pipeline.
Not to mention the office’s hostility toward The Little Sisters of the Poor for preventing women from getting birth control, er, healthcare.
And his not-so-veiled promise that when he’s governor, he will use the power of the veto liberally.
It has gotten to the point that every time I see a post pop up from the attorney general’s accounts, and he has two, I scream out to no one in particular: “For God’s sake, Josh, get off of your iPhone and announce for governor already!”
I suppose, though, that this is exactly what Josh is doing. This is the soft rollout of his campaign for governor, because we all know he intends to run and there haven’t been any Democrats of note who have publicly thrown their hats in the ring. It’s no secret the former Montgomery County commissioner turned social media expert (and attorney general) has his sights set on higher office.
And that is perfectly fine. I have no problem with the attorney general of Pennsylvania being a political creature, and political creatures seek higher office like alligators seek the arms of inattentive boaters. There is no secret there. In fact, when Shapiro replaced Bruce Beemer who was appointed to replace Kathleen Kane several years ago, I was actually rooting for him to succeed. I was a Republican then, but the new AG seemed to be able to transcend partisanship.
After the corrupt and corrupted regime of the lovely Kathleen, Shapiro seemed like a breath of fresh air.
The fact that the air has since turned fetid is neither surprising, nor particularly troubling. Except for the fact that the attorney general seems to be using the powers of his office to win votes in his as-yet shadow campaign for governor. He is pandering to the groups he thinks he needs to win in Harrisburg, including women who refuse to purchase their own birth control, women who think abortion is healthcare, environmentalists who think we should return Delaware County to the Lenape Indians, Democrats who think questioning the integrity of the last election is treason, and people who spend an inordinate amount of time on social media.
This is not to say that Josh Shapiro isn’t sincere in his current efforts to make Mariner accountable for what he appears to consider a “crime,” in his full-throated support for abortion rights, in his conviction that the election was free from fraud and irregularity, and in his belief that nuns should pick up the tab for diaphragms. Perhaps he is, and perhaps his efforts are simply a public manifestation and expression of his legal (as opposed to political) priorities.
Not being able to get into his head, I can only go on the optics and past performance. The AG has often used his prosecutorial powers to target organizations and individuals with political significance at specific moments in time. Attempting to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to subsidize birth control for lay employees in violation of their First Amendment rights came around the time Obamacare was being challenged in court. Shapiro’s most recent social media campaign in favor of abortion as “healthcare” coincides with the passage of the Texas law. His strong defense of the integrity of Pennsylvania’s election process was preceded by a tweet he sent before the votes were counted, which essentially said that if all the votes are counted, Joe Biden would win Pennsylvania. That was before Biden was declared the winner.
Shapiro has been a political AG. This is not unusual, especially in Pennsylvania, but given the upcoming gubernatorial elections and his choice of targets, it has not gone unnoticed by those targets, or by the public at large. And those of us who disagree with him are entitled to be troubled by the fact that the man charged with protecting the rights of all Pennsylvanians seems to be playing favorites.