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 will 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 “dangerous 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 be distracted by federal points like immigration, to the purpose the place he typically neglects his obligations 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 pressure that one may count on 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 always strives for the highlight and hopes for a reserved seat on the GOP specific from Crazytown to the White Home in 2024.
A number of the attention-grabbing is comical, and lots 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 gang bought the joke. It began chanting “Let’s go Brandon,” a phrase that has turn out to be right-wing code for “Fuck Joe Biden.”
But, having stated all that, you nearly need to 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 Celebration forward of his re-election bid subsequent 12 months. DeSantis is being pressured, nearly every day, by right-wing trolls to lurch additional and additional towards them. It’s onerous to know if the trolls need to help him, or in the event that they’re simply messing with him to train their muscular tissues.
The governor goes together with it, as a result of he apparently has no core beliefs apart 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 happy. They only 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 sporting 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 embrace 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 huge 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 pressured to hunt the Libertarian Celebration nomination for governor in 2022. And Ron can kiss his boastful Yalie ass goodbye #DefendFlorida.”
Let’s speak about that “boastful Yalie ass” reference for a second. It’s value remembering how DeSantis climbed this excessive, this quick, in GOP circles. For one factor, it doesn’t damage that he has govt expertise when so a lot of his seemingly Republican opponents in 2024 are prone 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 one more, the governor has a gold-plated resume that features legislative expertise from a stint in Congress, levels from Yale College and Harvard Legislation Faculty, and even navy service as a former lieutenant commander within the Navy. Sniping from lowlifes like Stone however, that could be a fairly respectable document.
And mockingly, 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 unconventional fringe. That is high-stakes poker. If he doesn’t play his playing cards proper, he might simply fall off the leaderboard of seemingly 2024 GOP presidential candidates and turn out to be simply one other freak within the ever-expanding Republican freakshow.
That may 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 “apart from Trump.” If Trump runs once more, which might effectively occur, then it’s lights out for many of the remainder of the Republican area. Which may embrace DeSantis, who attracts from the identical effectively of voters as Trump. If Trump sits out 2024, nevertheless, DeSantis is prone to be the GOP frontrunner—if he can maintain his repute intact, and his wits about him, between at times.
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 powerful week. They’re nonetheless shell-shocked by the thumping they bought within the Virginia governor’s race, together with an in depth name within the governor’s race in deep-blue New Jersey. Democratic Celebration leaders are frightened not simply in regards to the 2022 midterms, but in addition, trying additional down the road, their probabilities to return out on high within the subsequent presidential election.
Right here’s one piece of excellent information for Democrats: the Florida governor is so compromised, and tousled in his personal knots, that, by then, he is probably not a risk to anybody apart from himself.