At this level, I nearly don’t know whether or not to view Ron DeSantis with contempt—or pity.
On the one hand, he’s a horrible governor who’s failing his management course with flying colours. Pushed solely by politics and bare ambition, he pursues reckless policies that divide Floridians and should even put them in peril. Living proof: the governor’s plan to problem in court docket the Biden administration’s new vaccine rules for private businesses with 100 or more employees, that are alleged to take impact on Jan. 4.
It’s not simply mandates or supposed overreach by the feds; the governor’s new surgeon general, who leads the state’s division of well being, has echoed his boss by providing anecdotes and invoking conspiracy theories to query the efficacy of the vaccines themselves. The doc even argued that what’s actually “unhealthy for well being” isn’t rejecting the vaccine, however firing individuals who refuse to take it. What occurred to “First, do no hurt?”
And it’s not simply COVID-19. DeSantis can also be distracted by federal points like immigration, to the purpose the place he usually neglects his tasks in Tallahassee. DeSantis has all however declared Florida to be a border state, pushing again in opposition to President Biden’s immigration insurance policies with the drive that one may anticipate from governors of Texas or Arizona.
Lastly, just like the wacky state he leads, DeSantis appears to be a “loopy story” manufacturing facility. Each few days, you’ll see a brand new story about DeSantis’ newest antics or half-baked coverage initiative, as he continually strives for the highlight and hopes for a reserved seat on the GOP specific from Crazytown to the White Home in 2024.
Among the attention-grabbing is comical, and a number of it’s crude. A lot of it additionally appears reflexive, as if the governor is a puppet and his personal ambition is pulling the strings. DeSantis doesn’t lead; he follows.
On Wednesday, throughout a speech in West Palm Seaside, DeSantis fired up a crowd of supporters when he referred to President Joe Biden’s administration because the “Brandon administration” earlier than breaking into laughter. The group bought the joke. It began chanting “Let’s go Brandon,” a phrase that has change into right-wing code for “Fuck Joe Biden.”
But, having stated all that, you nearly should really feel sorry for him. DeSantis is clearly so determined to be president that he’s pandering like mad on a number of fronts as he tries to remain within the good graces of the lunatic fringe of the Republican Occasion forward of his re-election bid subsequent 12 months. DeSantis is being pressured, nearly each day, by right-wing trolls to lurch additional and additional towards them. It’s arduous to know if the trolls need to help him, or in the event that they’re simply messing with him to train their muscle mass.
The governor goes together with it, as a result of he apparently has no core beliefs aside from the unshakable conviction that he ought to sit within the Oval Workplace.
And right here’s the distress of all of it. It’s not just like the trolls will ever be glad. They simply maintain transferring the markers, and demanding increasingly more groveling and allegiance—not simply from DeSantis however from any elected official within the GOP institution. For them, it’s only a energy play.
The troll du jour is Roger Stone, who—if there have been any justice on the earth—could be carrying an orange jumpsuit proper now. The previous Trump adviser and political strategist was convicted in 2019 of seven felonies linked to the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference within the 2016 election. The infractions embody 5 counts of constructing false statements to FBI and congressional investigators, one rely of witness tampering, and one rely of obstruction of justice. His sentence was commuted by Trump in July 2020. It’s good to have pals in low locations.
Now Stone is demanding DeSantis conduct an audit of the 2020 election within the state in service of Trump’s massive lie—that the race was stolen.
Stone wrote to his 1000’s of followers on social media: “If Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t order a full audit of the Florida 2020 vote, I could also be compelled to hunt the Libertarian Occasion nomination for governor in 2022. And Ron can kiss his conceited Yalie ass goodbye #DefendFlorida.”
Let’s discuss that “conceited Yalie ass” reference for a second. It’s price remembering how DeSantis climbed this excessive, this quick, in GOP circles. For one factor, it doesn’t damage that he has government expertise when so a lot of his possible Republican opponents in 2024 are more likely to be one-dimensional U.S. Senators who can’t say the identical factor. See: Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Josh Hawley of Missouri.
For an additional, the governor has a gold-plated resume that features legislative expertise from a stint in Congress, levels from Yale College and Harvard Legislation College, and even army service as a former lieutenant commander within the Navy. Sniping from lowlifes like Stone however, that could be a fairly respectable report.
And satirically, it’s that very same commodity—“respect”—that DeSantis is playing away along with his right-wing lurch. It’s respect that he’s in peril of dropping by inching nearer and nearer to the novel fringe. That is high-stakes poker. If he doesn’t play his playing cards proper, he may simply fall off the leaderboard of possible 2024 GOP presidential candidates and change into simply one other freak within the ever-expanding Republican freakshow.
That will be an enormous setback for DeSantis, who—polls present—is, for Republicans, the No. 1 “OTT” candidate for president in 2024, with OTT standing for “aside from Trump.” If Trump runs once more, which may properly occur, then it’s lights out for a lot of the remainder of the Republican area. That may embody DeSantis, who attracts from the identical properly of voters as Trump. If Trump sits out 2024, nevertheless, DeSantis is more likely to be the GOP frontrunner—if he can maintain his popularity intact, and his wits about him, between from time to time.
That’s why DeSantis is caught. If he panders to the loopy proper, he loses. If he doesn’t, he nonetheless loses. His is a cautionary story of what occurs when an elected official will get led by voters, as a substitute of the opposite method round.
As the entire world is aware of, Democrats had a mighty robust week. They’re nonetheless shell-shocked by the thumping they bought within the Virginia governor’s race, together with a detailed name within the governor’s race in deep-blue New Jersey. Democratic Occasion leaders are anxious not simply in regards to the 2022 midterms, but additionally, trying additional down the road, their probabilities to return out on prime within the subsequent presidential election.
Right here’s one piece of excellent information for Democrats: the Florida governor is so compromised, and twisted up in his personal knots, that, by then, he will not be a risk to anybody aside from himself.
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