Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been called Trump’s Mini-Me so many times that it’s become a cliché. I try to avoid clichés, so I’ll skip the Austin Powers/Dr. Evil shtick. Like most clichés, it’s stuck because there’s some truth to it. Ron DeSantis rose to power by attaching himself to the Impeached Insult Comedian like a tapeworm. A gross image but true. At least it’s not a cliché.
I feel an early musical interlude coming on:
Unlike Todd Rundgren, Ron DeSantis is neither a wizard nor a true star, but many in the media think he is. One of the worst, indeed Trumpiest, governors in the country is being touted by some as presidential timber. Cue woodworm jokes.
Despite his disastrous performance during the pandemic, the DeSantis Delusion has been spreading like a viral infection. The worst example of this infection comes from a recent article at The Atlantic by a usually sensible pundit, Conor Friedersdorf hereinafter Con Fried. The title is scarier than any horror movie: Why Never Trumpers Should Bet on DeSantis Now.
DeSantis frustrates and disappoints me within normal parameters. He hasn’t yet frightened me, as Trump does, as being superlatively incompetent, divisive, morally degenerate, or authoritarian. As MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough put it last June, when COVID-19 numbers were failing and DeSantis was peaking in the polls, “We’re going from the political heroin to the political methadone.” However bleak the analogy, that’s a significant step toward recovery!
DeSantis is the guy who cooked the Florida COVID books by firing the person in charge of compiling the numbers.
DeSantis is the guy who recently encouraged anti-vaxxer coppers (try saying that 5 times in a row) to come to Florida to spread the Delta variant.
Those are just two of many harebrained Trumpier than Trump schemes launched by the Florida Man.
To be blunt, are you out of your fucking mind, Con Fried? I’m familiar with the non-Mini-Me clichés about the lesser of two evils and desperate times calling for desperate measures, but Ron Fucking DeSantis? Really, Con Fried? Is this for real or just contrarianism run amuck?
I realize that Never Trumpers are grasping at straws to remove the Kaiser of Chaos from the political equation but Ron Fucking DeSantis? Gimme a break.
I agree with New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait who recently wrote about the DeSantis Delusion:
Ron DeSantis is the patron saint of a segment of the conservative Establishment that has made its peace with Donald Trump largely by pretending he does not exist. DeSantis has followed their strategy of ignoring Trump’s lies and authoritarianism while cultivating his followers with more refined attacks on their shared enemies.
Ironically, however, DeSantis has moved far enough to the extreme that they have now been forced into the position of applying the same method to DeSantis that they used for Trump. They have constructed an imaginary version of DeSantis, lavishing praise upon the “Ron DeSantis” they created who shares all the positive qualities of the real-life politician of the same name, with none of his glaring flaws.
Isn’t it bad enough that the Republican establishment has a bad case of the DeSantis Delusion without spreading it to the Never Trumpers?
I’ve already compared the DeSantis Delusion to a viral infection, this perfects that analogy. I also like Chait’s Imaginary Friend imagery. It beats the hell outta the Mini-Me cliché. That cliché, however, is one reason why former President* Pennywise has come to hate DeSantis. He views him as a threat. I’m skeptical that he’s a real, as opposed to an imaginary, threat.
The scenario laid out by Con Fried and others in the throes of the DeSantis Delusion has two flaws:
First, DeSantis is up for reelection in 2022. He’ll need to win by a substantial margin to be a viable presidential contender.
Second, I doubt that DeSantis has the balls to challenge Trump in 2024. The entire Republican party has been spayed and neutered by 5 years of subservience to the Former Guy. DeSantis will only run if the Impeached Insult Comedian does not.
Con Fried has another delusion: that the Never Trumpers will act. Thus far, they’re all talk with a few teevee ads sprinkled in. It’s hard to imagine them mounting an effective challenge to Trump or forming a third party to siphon votes away from the GOP in 2024. Besides, third party talk is for losers and the deluded.
The DeSantis Delusion is just another symptom of the MAGA disease that’s infected our body politic. Con Fried and the Never Trumpers are like kids playing with fire. They’re the ones most likely to get burned by the beast that has destroyed conservatism as we knew it. What’s next? A Hawley, Cotton, or Cruz Delusion? Oy just oy.
The last word goes to Crowded House: