Given that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to show all the charisma of a still-wet toilet plunger, the odds are still approximately one million to one against Ron being the next Republican presidential nominee. But that doesn't mean he's not going to try, and that we're all going to have to hear about it until he eventually drops out. DeSantis has just two moves in his arsenal: demonization and retaliation. He picks out a target, typically whatever target fringe-right hate groups have identified, and announces that teachers, or LGBTQ children, or scientists, or university professors, or trans Americans, or immigrants, or other rote targets of neo-Nazi bile are now his enemies, too.
Then he uses the tools of his government office to punish those groups, ignoring the First Amendment because, again, he's a wannabe fascist. Retaliation is all he's got. At the moment, he is aiming his office directly at the Walt Disney Company because they said maybe LGBTQ Americans have a right to exist even if Republicans don’t think so. This caused Ron to pop up out of his Florida toilet like a waterlogged python to declare that he would be getting back at them good and hard for being so rude to him.
A new NBC News story says that DeSantis' new war against Disney may be a good idea when it comes to winning Republican support in a primary so intentionally odious as to make The Aristocrats look tame. NBC News assembled "nearly three dozen potential voters, strategists and pollsters" that are "skeptical of Disney and supportive of DeSantis calling out the corporate behemoth," and from that they extrapolated that DeSantis' attacks on Disney will go down well in the Republican primaries—even if it's poison everywhere else.
Using the assembled thoughts of three dozen partisan Republicans is thin, thin support for a campaign stand that amounts to "companies that support the right of LGBTQ+ Americans to exist and be seen should lose their own Constitutional rights." It might be a winning message or it might not be, but you should remember that when media companies intentionally quote from "average voters," they manage over and over again to get quotes from "average voters" who aren't mentioned as being founders of far-right groups or activists who have based their whole existences on supporting a particular political debate—which is precisely why a reporter has their name in their phone to begin with.
Of the three dozen Republican "potential voters, strategists, and pollsters," there's a good chance that most or all of them were included specifically because some pro-DeSantis Republican suggested they be included. Or they might be fake Republican quotes generated from a chatbot; at this point, it's impossible to tell.
“I’m definitely on DeSantis’ side. Go woke, go broke,” said Mikey Young, a Lake County voter, who was upset over the direction Disney had taken its company. “It’s absolutely ridiculous what they’re doing. And they’re trying to infiltrate the children.”
Not how you use the word “infiltrate,” sport. Good try, though.
“I think it’s turning a little bit woke,” said Deborah Folckemer, also from Lake County. “I think that’s what’s changed. It’s not the old Disney.”
There's not a person in Florida who can identify what "woke" means, either before or after using it in a sentence. You could ask three dozen voters, strategists, and pollsters and get no more substantive answer than "objected to something some Republican said at some point." The word has infiltrated them.
Infiltrating quotes aside, when it comes to actual evidence that Florida Republicans are more likely to side with Dear Leader, Jr., than with one of the world's most influential and—rightly or wrongly—loved corporate behemoths, there's some polling that suggests Republicans will indeed back DeSantis on this one. NBC cites a University of Northern Florida poll from a few months back that put DeSantis' favorability among Republicans at 87%, and Disney's at 27%. Sounds bad!
Again though, what it mainly proves is that Republican voters base their convictions on whatever the last Republican on television told them their convictions should be. Republican voters also currently hate a particular brand of beer, at least one brand of candy, surgical masks, and all but six books, and there's no way to guess what crusade they'll launch next week, much less six months from now.
Sure, let's say Ron DeSantis bases his whole damn campaign around attacks on Walt Disney World. That still leaves him a Voldemort-faced omniwhiner who has proven to have no political skills other than glomming onto far-right hate campaigns. The real question is whether Republican primary voters are so very damn enchanted by Ron DeSantis picking a fight with Mickey Mouse that they'll suddenly start flocking to him. And if you think even the most aggressive local bullying campaign translates to national success, I've got a Scott Walker to sell you, and cheap.
Ron DeSantis' new campaign-premised war on Disney may currently be impressing a Republican base that worries companies will try to infiltrate their children with Black Tinkerbells and Little Mermaids, but what it is not doing is convincing deep-pocket Republican donors that Ron DeSantis is the Republican horse they should be betting on.
Politico has that part of the story, and the short version is—stop me if I'm going too fast here—that Wall Street donors primarily support candidates who will lower their taxes and hack away regulations that reduce their companies' profits. That’s the whole bribe, the whole donor-class agreement. What corporate donors do not want are candidates with a history of singling out individual corporations and using their government powers to implement vendetta-based new regulations in order to intentionally hurt, control, or crush them.
Wall Street donors, then, are now becoming increasingly disaffected with Ron DeSantis as a presidential prospect. It was one thing when he was a wooden-backed pro-fascist automaton aimed at all of conservatism's most powerless enemies, many of them children. There are plenty of big-money Republican donors willing to overlook the party's rapid slide into each of the same obsessions as past fascist movements, so long as they get a government that will give them tax cuts and dismiss health and pollution concerns. There are a lot fewer Republican donors willing to accept a fascist agenda that threatens their own investments, every last damn one of them, if someone in the MAGA world decides that they ought to be singled out as the party’s next enemy.
Ron DeSantis may have the charisma of a toilet plunger, but a toilet plunger prone to fits of profit-harming vengeance is nobody's idea of fun. You're not supposed to hurt corporate America, you're supposed to support the "free market" by helping them get away with anything they'd like.
Politico's take on things leads us to yet another compilation of curated quotes, like this one from "one executive at a New York bank," who says that "confidence in DeSantis's ability to win is flagging."
“DeSantis is certainly a better option than Trump at this point,” the executive said. “But he’s a really weak option.” … “What we probably wind up with is a choice between a guy who is very old and wants to raise our taxes and reregulate everything, and a guy who could be running from prison,” the executive said.
You will note, dear reader, that the anonymous New York bank executive didn't suggest that he would not vote for the candidate running from prison if the choice was between that and slightly higher taxes. He's not saying that an attempted violent coup against the United States government would be a dealbreaker if it was between that and—gasp!—reinstituting certain bank regulations.
There's nobody in the Republican Party who will so much as argue that attempting to overthrow the government after losing an election might be Bad, much less condemn Trump by name for it. Wall Street executives thought DeSantis could take the role, but DeSantis couldn't set aside his anti-corporate agenda long enough to properly court them. Now Wall Street and the billionaire class are back to square one, looking for somebody else.
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Dimitri of WarTranslated has been doing the essential work of translating hours of Russian and Ukrainian video and audio during the invasion of Ukraine. He joins Markos and Kerry from London to discuss how he began this work by sifting through various sources. He is one of the only people translating information for English-speaking audiences. Dimitri’s followed the war since the beginning and has watched the evolution of the language and dispatches as the war has progressed.