Wednesday, May 24, 2023

They Go Together…

… like salt and peter.  From the New York Times:

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is planning to announce the start of his 2024 presidential campaign on Wednesday in a live audio conversation on Twitter with Elon Musk, the platform’s polarizing owner, according to people with knowledge of his plans.

Mr. DeSantis’s entry into the Republican primary race against former President Donald J. Trump has been widely expected, but the decision to do so with Mr. Musk adds a surprising element and gives Mr. DeSantis access to a large audience online. NBC News first reported the plans.

The event on Twitter Spaces, which is planned for 6 p.m. Eastern, injects a level of risk into a rollout that is expected to be carefully scripted and ensures that Mr. DeSantis’s first impression as a presidential candidate will be aligning himself with Mr. Musk, an eccentric businessman who has ranked at times as the world’s richest man.

Great idea: two of the most disliked men in the world getting together on a social media platform that is flailing to take on Trump and attempt to win over America by being a bullying big mouth.  And then there’s Ron DeSantis…

At long last the national media is catching on to the fact that his chances are slim.  Per Josh Marshall:

For the last two or three months we’ve had this on-going spectacle of major media continuing to portray Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the arch-rival and potential slayer of ex-President Trump, even after it’s become increasingly clear he has really no chance at all of winning the nomination. In fairness to DeSantis, it’s unlikely that anyone stands a chance, unless the judicial system or mortality remove Trump from the stage. But it’s only with DeSantis that you have the yawning gap between perception and reality. Everyone knows Pence and Scott aren’t happening.

Now we’re seeing the first signs of the Bigs catching on.

Tara Palmeri, consummate insider D.C. journalist now writing for Puck News, spent some time trying to cover DeSantis in New Hampshire during his recent visit and found him awkward, incapable of the basic blocking and tackling of retail politics, unable to sustain eye contact and generally weird. You may have seen some of the cringeworthy videos from his Florida jaunt. Palmeri sums it up like this: “It was my first personal observation of what DeSantis’s critics mean when they call him a paper tiger — a superficially perfect test-tube Republican candidate who, on closer inspection, is probably not ready for prime-time.”

This is notable for two reasons. To date, most prestige reporters questioning DeSantis’s candidacy have focused on the growing polling gap between DeSantis and Trump, his unwillingness to attack Trump and his inability to find his footing against Trump’s growing media presence and mounting attacks. That’s looking at the campaign chess board and seeing that the pieces aren’t arranged for a DeSantis win. Palmeri’s comments are about seeing the guy in person and realizing he’s out of his league.

If DeSantis is such a hopeless clown, that raises the question of how it is that he’s serving his second term as governor of the country’s third largest state after a thundering reelection victory. It’s a good question without a totally straightforward answer. But it comes down to Florida not being the country at large, without the national press scrutiny that is much harder to keep at bay. But it’s just as much about the relationship to Trump. DeSantis’s rise from a backbench congressman was based on being a loyal Trump soldier. In 2018 he pushed this image to humorous effect, filming campaign ads about reading his toddler son bedtime stories about building the wall. In 2022 to a great degree he still operated in this role, albeit without the comparable obsequiousness. We can’t take his almost 20-point margin away from him. But the facts speak for themselves.

For the purposes of understanding our unfolding national predicament it’s just more confirmation that DeSantis is highly unlikely to be the Republican nominee. His story is shaping up to be a one-man Rosenkranz and Guildenstern, a mix of malevolence and comedy destined for a bad (political) end.

They’re finally paying attention to the reality that DeSantis basically ran unopposed in 2022.  The Florida Democrats put up Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor, current Democratic congressman, and with a resume of so many different positions (both real and philosophical) that it’s hard to keep up.  DeSantis has a rubber-stamp legislature on the level of the fawning North Korean parliament to push through his “anti-Woke” agenda, and the idea that the old conservative philosophy of smaller government/more freedom only applied to people and corporations that toed his line of Fascism with palm trees.  The fact that he’s utterly charm-free in person is a feature, not a bug.

Weirder things have happened, but I still think that by Christmas the only place you’ll find DeSantis for President crap will be in the remainder bin on Etsy.