Post # 243, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary
A better example for DeSantis to follow than Donald Trump. Reuben Askew.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has a number of attributes working in his political favor.
He is smart and adroit.
He has a beautiful family.
He is well educated.
His decisions are well timed.
But like any human being, he has faults. Normally, that would be the end of this discussion. But he is Governor of the fourth largest state and is favored to be re-elected next month. He will probably become the odds on favorite to become the Republican nominee for President in 2024. I believe DeSantis is a lost opportunity to put his positive attributes (and more) to work for America. Here are my disappointments with DeSantis:
1. He felt he could not be elected Governor of Florida without the help of an obviously marginalized and allegedly corrupt Donald Trump. DeSantis knew of Trump's embarrassing record as a human being and put it aside because winning the election was more important to him. He might have beaten Adam Putnam anyway, but he wanted certainty, at least in his mind. A lost opportunity.
2. DeSantis watched Trump's presidency very closely and saw independence as one of the most important characteristics. When the deadly plague of Covid 19 hit the world, DeSantis took a chance with Floridian's lives. Federal government medical experts shared their best research and recommendations for fighting the virus with states. It required masks, keeping distance and getting immunized. At every turn DeSantis, who is not a doctor, fought the protections because he thought it made him look independent pushing individual freedom. As a result, more Floridians got Covid and died than any other state. By bragging about his action as his support for freedom, he raised millions of GOP funds to distribute his false narrative to the world. Again, a lost opportunity.
3. DeSantis knew education was the red meat in a growing state like Florida. He saw that the right deeply resented teachers unions and bureaucrats teaching of what he felt was a liberal curriculum, like civil rights, abortion, and freedom of speech. He knew both anti- busing and teaching bible based religion were part of the conservative message. So rather than attempt to work with the existing educational community, he elected to destroy it and replace it with his own--anti-woke, don't say gay, terminate school board pay, and in some cases termination of the elected members. In the middle of his re-election bid, he bragged about being the only Governor to save education, although tests results and metrics do not bear that out. Another lost opportunity.
4. Unlike Donald Trump, DeSantis appears to be a mild mannered individual with respect for others. But DeSantis has watched how Trump's base supports and even loves his disrespect of others, and even his outright vulgarity. Once again, the office is more important than the individual to DeSantis. Without a bit of support for President Biden's efforts on Covid, returning the troops from Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine and it's impact on the economy, the supply chain disruption, stimulus funding out of Washington, and Roe versus Wade, DeSantis became the loudest GOP voice assailing Biden, our country and the Congress. It appeared he truly enjoyed ridiculing Biden, until Ian hit Southwest Florida and then DeSantis and his wife changed their tune to civility instantly. Lost opportunity.
5. Former Governor Charlie Crist as a Republican allowed convicted Floridians to vote after their release from prison. Many applauded the move, but it remained controversial after he left office. When Trump falsely alleged that convicts all over the country voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election, DeSantis saw an easy move to fire up the right wing base. He formed an armed election posse, and directed them to arrest any released convicts that voted in 2020. But those same convicts were given their right to vote cards from the state of Florida before voting. I never thought I would see our state of Florida arresting citizens to vote. A real lost opportunity.
6. All the world was shocked to watch DeSantis bully the freedom seeking refugees from Venezuela by flying them to Cape Cod. Again, he thought this would win him favor with the right wing base of the GOP. It might have, but most saw it as a cowardly stunt that failed. More research has proven that the Governor was heavily involved in the planning of the flight and actually had plans for more. Perhaps among the most disgusting was that he made the legislature give him hard working Floridian's tax dollars for his failed stunt. Words cannot really describe this as a lost opportunity.
Unfortunately, there are more examples of Governor DeSantis as a phoney, which I will not document. But I would close by offering the Governor a better example for him to copy than our twice impeached former President. His name is Governor Reuben Askew, with whom I served, and who I have profiled before in this Commentary. His integrity and leadership is well documented through internet searches. He put integrity before the office and never lost an election Governor DeSantis.