New DeSantis Strategy: Reshuffle, Reboot, Reload And Shift Into Reverse
Whoopdeedoo! This is what passes for political news these days: Florida Governor and Republican candidate for the presidency Ron DeSantis replaced his campaign manager yesterday morning. Whoopdeedoo two! In a two-column headline in yesterday’s paper, the New York Times reported, “DeSantis Bluntly Acknowledges Trump’s 2020 Defeat: ‘Of Course He Lost.’”
The rest of the DeSantis quote reads as follows: “Joe Biden’s the president.” This isn’t an acknowledgement of reality. It’s Republican sleight of hand. The Times went so far as to call this teeny-tiny little nod in the direction of reality “Mr. DeSantis’s increasingly aggressive stance.” Huh? You’d need a micrometer to measure the distance between the Ron and the Don. DeSantis doesn’t call President Biden’s victory legitimate. He doesn’t say Joe Biden won. He simply says that Trump lost.
Big difference, folks. A CNN poll conducted in July found that 70 percent of Republican voters believe that Biden’s victory was not legitimate. Seventy percent. That’s roughly the same number of Republicans who believe climate change is a hoax. DeSantis isn’t edging away from Trump, as the pundits rushed to their keyboards to announce yesterday. The man signed a law making the teaching of AP Psychology illegal in the state of Florida because the course includes a discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity. Even though the Florida education commissioner just executed a two step backtrack on the rule, entire school systems have canceled the course and will not make it available to students when school begins because teachers are afraid of being prosecuted for teaching the course.
We’ll get to DeSantis’ deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic campaign maneuvers in a moment, but for right now, let’s just stop and consider the brouhaha in Florida over the teaching of AP Psychology. The College Board course has been offered in Florida and every other state in the union for at least 30 years. Students taking the Advanced Placement course are awarded a college credit. It looks good on their records when they apply to colleges. Psychology is one of the most popular AP courses offered in Florida. According to Judd Legum at his Popular Information Substack, more than 28,000 students took the course last year.
So, what does that tell us? It tells us that the parents of those 28,000 students approved of their children taking the course. Being a parent myself, I can almost guarantee you that many of those parents suggested that their children take the course. Psychology is one of those subjects that create a more well-rounded record for a student who is strong in science and math or has high grades in the liberal arts classes like English and foreign language. We don’t have the figures for the last 30 years the course was offered, but using the 28,000 figure as a benchmark, at least a half-million to a million Floridians have taken the course.
That’s a lot of people who are now voting age somewhere, a lot of them in Florida most probably. Which raises the question: Who is DeSantis trying to appeal to with these culture war stands he has taken in the state he governs? I would bet the number of voters in Florida who have either visited Disney World as a child or as adults taken their kids there is in the millions, maybe even tens of millions. The Disney company has had so-called gay days at its amusement parks for years. How does DeSantis think his war on Disney will play with all the fans of Disney movies, Disney cartoon characters, and Disney theme parks? Does he think he can knock Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck off their cultural pedestals by retaliating against the company that created them?
Who does he think he’s fooling with his attempt at banning AP Psychology because the course discusses issues of sexuality described by the American Psychological Association as “fundamental to psychology?”
Republicans like DeSantis who are pushing these culture war issues are ignoring an elemental fact of life. The parents in Florida who approved their kids’ taking AP Psychology, especially the parents who over the last 30 years took the course, don’t see themselves as damaged goods. Nor do they see their children that way.
Defendant Trump has taken up so much space in what we might call the Republican room that the DeSantises and the Pences and the rest of them don’t have any way to fit in there. So, to grab a teeny sliver of space, DeSantis is pushing what used to be called “wedge issues.” His problem is that outlawing AP Psychology and canceling Disney’s special “improvement district” that allowed the company to control its roads, utilities, building codes, and raise its own municipal debt just doesn’t have the guttural, throat-clearing force of the rank racism and lies about the 2020 election that his chief competitor is running on.
Now, rampagin’ Ron thinks he can get somewhere by going against more than two years of supporting Defendant Trump’s lies about the last election by acknowledging that Biden won. Wow. I would love to know the name of the political consultant who sold him on that campaign strategy.
Of course, now we may never know who sold DeSantis that political bill of goods because he is said to be cleaning house in his campaign operation for the second or is it third time. Yesterday, The Man Who Took on Disney rearranged his campaign phone tree by moving his former manager, Generra Peck, over to campaign “chief strategist,” whatever the hell that is. The new campaign manager is James Uthmeier, DeSantis’ chief of staff in the governor’s office.
And if you want to talk about the deck chairs, check this out: “Joining Uthmeier as a deputy campaign manager will be David Polyansky, an experienced Iowa operative who boasts of never losing a Republican presidential primary in the first-in-the-nation caucus state,” reported The Messenger today. “The campaign’s senior adviser and pollster, Ryan Tyson, will have an elevated role along with Marc Reichelderfer, a seasoned political operative and Tallahassee lobbyist who is currently advising the campaign." Whoever the hell they are.
And get this: The Messenger reports that since “reboot is a despised word in the campaign, advisers prefer to call this the last campaign ‘reload’ -- and they're going to win, despite the naysayers and early polling.” It’s always a good sign in a political campaign when they reach for military terminology to describe their desperate scrambling, because, you know, reload sounds so much…uh…tougher?
Sounding tough is apparently DeSantis’ real strategy. If you have any doubts about that, just check out the photograph above. Scowling Ron The Impaler is pointing his powerful index finger straight at the enemy – a photographer pointing a Nikon-looking camera at him, because, you know, not giving any interviews to the mainstream media, posting racist memes on the right-wing web, and being surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards and campaign operatives whenever he’s in public, has worked out so well for him.
But we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and allow his newly-shuffled-around “chief campaign strategist” Generra Peck the last word: “Governor DeSantis is running one of the most aggressive early state campaigns in modern history,” Peck said. “Our organization welcomes the best of the best and James is one of my closest colleagues and friends — we are better for his joining and providing day to day leadership. This team is built to last and built to win.”
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