The presidential primaries and caucuses of 2024 are still a long way off, but people who know him are already coming out of the woodwork to pre-write the obituaries on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential bid.
And it is glorious:
“The more he is met by people, the more they are not going to like him,” said Gruters, who is also a state senator. “The more he’s out there, the more his numbers go down. It’s not a good long-term scenario for him. I fully expected the downfall of his campaign a long time ago.”
That's state Sen. Joe Gruters, who was the chair of the Florida Republican Party for four years and who appears quite eager to take a tire iron to DeSantis' knees before anyone can beat him to it. That diagnosis is from last November, but by this point it has become conventional wisdom. Yes, it turns out that the main impediment to DeSantis' national ambitions is that Ron DeSantis sucks, and getting to know him only makes the full extent of his suckitude more obvious, not less. We’re only to August and already the incessant campaign coverage has given America enough of a good look at DeSantis to understand that yes, the man really is the joyless, pandering, revenge-obsessed, glassy-eyed bully and suck-up he appeared to be when he first smuggled himself into Mar-a-Lago and stole a bunch of Donald Trump's old suits.
He simply doesn't wear well on the ears. Or eyes. Or conscience. And he probably smells like desperation and motor oil, while we're at it.
The Gruters quote is from a Washington Post story that returns to DeSantis' old social circles to bring us the news that yeah, this isn't a case of the cameras not being able to catch the "real" DeSantis or any of the other excuses campaign consultants give when they would very much like to keep getting paid to prop up their fading candidate. Everybody (anonymously) knew (anonymously!) that Ron would suck on the campaign trail.
Interviews with more than 30 people in Florida and Washington who worked closely with DeSantis — many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe their interactions with him — indicate that expectations were lower among some who knew him closely in Tallahassee — and that they always expected the candidate to be the challenge.
The story spends a lot of time fluffing DeSantis before getting to the good stuff, but eventually we get to the diagnosis from the anonymous victims of Being Near Ron, and it turns out he's "aloof," "insular," believes in "sticks and no carrots," doesn't make friends, doesn't like crowds or events or people in general, and oh look, it turns out the camera has been capturing the real DeSantis this whole time. Joyless pandering revenge-obsessed bully it is, then.
Still, though, you have to almost admire how DeSantis has managed to become hated in a state party filled with almost cartoonishly hateable people.
Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), once a prominent DeSantis backer, said at the [Mar-a-Lago] dinner that when he suffered a serious injury, DeSantis never called to check on him, but Trump did. He then decided to back Trump.
I'm sorry, is there any elected Florida Republican who isn't in the running for worst and most vapid person you know? Steube changed loyalties because DeSantis didn't kiss his boo-boo when Steube lost a fight with a tree he was trimming? That's what did it, not all of the actually harmful stuff Ron’s been doing as governor?
There's just no side to root for in these fights. Bugs Bunny had the right idea for Florida all along.
When his predecessor, Sen. Rick Scott (R), would call or text DeSantis about events in the state, such as hurricanes, his calls were not returned, according to people close to Scott. The two men have not spoken in years other than brief interactions at official events, the people said.
EVERYBODY IN THE FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY IS AN ASSHOLE.
Anyhoo, most of the complaints in the story appear to be along those lines. There are a bunch of Florida politicians with stories about Ron either not wanting to engage with them or, when they do meet with him, being a jerk. We learn that Ron "would leave food wrappers and other items in the back of the state car." And, mostly, we learn that DeSantis sabotages his allies just as eagerly as he sabotages everyone else, and it's probably not even intentional; he just doesn't spend even a minute of his day thinking about anybody but himself. Oh, and that many state Republicans "felt they had to endorse DeSantis or else," given the man's obsession with using the governor's office to mete out punishments to anyone who ticks him off.
Pretending to smile and give a shit about random voters at the Iowa State Fair has got to be killing this guy. He's used to being able to blow off every political figure in Florida, and now he's got to pretend to give a damn about a kid in a 4-H uniform showing him their prize pig.
What we don't have anywhere in the story are state Republicans who oppose DeSantis on actual policy grounds. We don't have any Republicans citing DeSantis appointing a pandemic conspiracy theorist as the state's top health officer as a reason for thinking he's a bit sketchy. There aren't any Republicans who think putting an utterly unqualified fascist hoax-promoter in charge of a state college was a bad move. Nobody's citing his bizarre attacks on school teachers, or Disney, or his willingness to tank the state economy solely so that he can perform little stunts to look good on the campaign trail.
No, the state's Republicans are pissy because he snubs them. They are just fine with the rest of it.
If there is a lesson in this story, it might not be that everyone hates Ron DeSantis. We already knew that part; all you have to do is turn on the television and you can see the man glowering like he's just announced all puppies must be put to death, as he oozes out yet another speech peppered with violent phrases and nasty ideas that are all just so obviously meant to be Ron's version of Donald Trump's penchant for both.
The real lesson might be that even in a den of the worst people you'll ever know in your life, people who stand for all the same things DeSantis stands for, even those people hate Ron DeSantis. And it's because he's simply too rude to them every time the party coalesces to do a new nasty and terrible thing.
That's an impressive level of sucking, right there. But, given everything we've seen from DeSantis on the campaign trail, not a bit of it is surprising.
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