The DeSantis Myth - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The DeSantis Myth
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives victory speech, Nov. 8, 2022 (LiveNOW from Fox/YouTube)

You know, it is amazing.

In the aftermath of the election, there are all these hosannas for Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. He was reelected in a Florida landslide. Good for him.

But, in fact, Mr. DeSantis is really being hailed by various media outlets and GOP politicians for one central reason: He isn’t Donald Trump.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that the former president chooses not to run again — highly unlikely — and DeSantis does run. Or that DeSantis chooses to run against Trump and wins.

It is little short of amazing that all those Never Trumpers out there celebrating the rise of DeSantis in various media outlets seem not to understand that, were either to happen and DeSantis were to win the nomination, in a blink the virulent Trump Derangement Syndrome would become DeSantis Derangement Syndrome.

A veritable political Niagara Falls of smears and outright lies would cascade over the Florida governor’s head, just as they have with Trump. And you don’t have to wait until 2024 to find examples of how this DeSantis Derangement Syndrome would work.

DeSantis was elected governor in 2018, the same year as the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 and wounded another 17. It was horrific. Four years later, there was another mass shooting, this one in Buffalo, New York. And here’s the headline in Newsweek:

Parkland Father Blames Ron DeSantis, Other Republicans for Buffalo Shooting

The story about the father of one of the slain students from the school in Parkland begins this way:

Parkland father Fred Guttenberg said this week that he believed that Republican politicians, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, bear some responsibility for Saturday’s massacre at a Buffalo grocery store that is being investigated as a hate crime.

In September 2022, after DeSantis demonstrated the hypocrisy from liberal elites who ignored the crisis and chaos at the southern border by sending a planeload of illegals to the liberal redoubt in Martha’s Vineyard, here was the headline from Fox News:

Media attack Ron DeSantis’ ‘cruel’ and ‘xenophobic’ migrant flights, call for investigation

DeSantis sent two planes filled with illegal immigrant to Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday

That story reported:

Progressive media pundits attacked Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and even called for his arrest after learning about his role in transporting illegal immigrants out of his state….

Democrat lawmakers members of the media [sic] viciously condemned DeSantis’ actions and piled on accusations of the governor’s “cruelty.”

“Deeply deeply sick and dehumanizing to fling human beings somewhere vindictively,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweeted….

Washington Post columnist Max Boot tweeted, “@GovRonDeSantis’s heartlessness and cynicism is hard to exaggerate. Basically using poor immigrants as pawns in the culture wars—and stepping stones to the presidency. Beneath contempt. He would be very dangerous if he ever became president.”

MSNBC political analyst Julián Castro claimed, “Governors Abbott and DeSantis are lying to immigrant families to lure and traffic them out of state on the taxpayers’ dime to help themselves politically. It’s pure cruelty. It may also be illegal. The DOJ should investigate.” …

Podcast host Keith Olbermann argued, “This just ups the ante here: False promises of recompense and jobs if they got into a vehicle; photographic exploitation of them…It’s human trafficking. Charge and arrest DeSantis, the videographer, all involved.”

Meanwhile, over at the gay website the Advocate was this:

7 Times Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Attacked the LGBTQ+ Community

This story begins:

The same state that delivered homophobes like Anita Bryant and Terry Jones has now given rise to Gov. Ron DeSantis. In the past month, the Republican governor of Florida has endorsed some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in America. But that sadly follows suit for a possible presidential contender who is increasingly wooing America’s far right.

Then there was this in HuffPost:

Ron DeSantis Unleashes Disturbing Attack On ‘Little Elf’ Fauci

A man was recently sentenced to prison for sending death threats to the top scientist and telling him he hoped he’d get a bullet in his “satanic elf skull.”

This story reported:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday, calling for someone to “grab” the nation’s top infectious disease expert and “chuck him across the Potomac.” …

The 81-year-old became a top target for right-wing hate over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, following attacks from former President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders.

Earlier this month, for example, a Maryland man was sentenced to three years in prison after he sent emails threatening to harm or kill Fauci, his family members and other health officials.

One of the emails threatened that Fauci and his family would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.” Another read: “Hope you get a bullet in your compromised satanic elf skull today.”

DeSantis has long harnessed hate toward Fauci to fundraise and fire up his base. In mid-2021, as COVID-19 cases soared in his state, he was selling “Don’t Fauci my Florida” can coolers and T-shirts.

One could go on with examples like this. And on and on. DeSantis was blamed by the mayor of Miami for his “wrong-headed” COVID policies that caused “21,683 new COVID-19 cases.” And the South Florida paper the Sun Sentinel accused DeSantis of having transformed Florida into a “crimson hellscape.”

The point is simple — and crystal clear. If the Never Trumpers get their fantasy — if Trump doesn’t run but DeSantis does or if DeSantis wins the GOP nomination — in a blink DeSantis will be the “Next Trump.” A target for every hate-filled calumny the media and its Democrat allies can foment. Just as they did — and do regularly — with Donald Trump.

Then, curiously, there was this from our friends at the Wall Street Journal. They write:

Mr. DeSantis didn’t ask for Mr. Trump’s endorsement, and candidates who won primaries after receiving it—Mehmet Oz, Doug Mastriano, Tudor Dixon, Herschel Walker, Blake Masters—lost or are trailing as this is written.

Yes indeed. All of those candidates listed were endorsed by Trump. But what’s left out is that not only were they also endorsed by DeSantis but the Florida governor went out of his way to campaign for some of them.

Here, for example, is this headline from the Post Millennial:

BREAKING: Ron DeSantis boosts PA Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at MASSIVE rally

He told the crowd that … the policies enacted in Florida could be ones that Pennsylvania could have, should they elect Mastriano for office.

DeSantis also campaigned for New York GOP gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin — who lost.

Then there was this headline over at Breitbart:

Ron DeSantis Endorses Conservative Candidates Nationwide

The story reported this:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this week publicly endorsed several conservative candidates nationwide, days ahead of the midterm election.

DeSantis, who faces off in his own race against Democrat Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) early next week, publicly expressed support for several conservative candidates in key races across the country — from Arizona’s Kari Lake and Blake Masters to Ohio’s J.D. Vance — on Thursday….

“Pennsylvanians — get out & vote for leaders who will reject the Left’s power-grabs & stand up for your rights. Vote @dougmastriano for Governor & send @DrOz to the Senate. It’s time to restore freedom to the Keystone State,” DeSantis said of the race in Pennsylvania.

In other words? The WSJ tries to give the impression that “candidates who lost or are trailing” did so because they were Trump-endorsed — when, of course, they were quite specifically, by name, also endorsed by DeSantis as well, with the Florida governor personally appearing with some of them at rallies — just as Trump did.

If, as expected, the former president runs — and then DeSantis also runs? That’s what primaries are for. And at the end of them the party rallies behind the winner.

But the notion among Never Trumpers that, if Trump did not run and DeSantis did, then DeSantis, as the 2024 GOP nominee, would not instantly be attacked in exactly the same fashion as Trump has been disgustingly and repeatedly attacked? That is a fairy tale. A myth.

As surely as the sun rises in the east, the rise of DeSantis Derangement Syndrome will happen. This — hello? — is what Democrats and the fake-news media are all about. Always.

As it is, the Florida governor has already been attacked as responsible for mass shootings and hate crime threats against Fauci and for being a homophobe who has repeatedly and disturbingly attacked the LGBTQ+ community. On top of which, he is, say his critics, a hate-filled, cruel racist who should be investigated and arrested by the Department of Justice.

And, oh yes — he endorses political losers.

Sound familiar?

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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