Poor Ron DeSantis (not really)! The Florida governor was inexplicably popular at the start of 2020. Now, his approval rating is a dismal 40 percent, and 58 percent of Floridians disapprove of how he's handled the COVID-19 outbreak. The remaining two percent might be dead.

He's done a terrible job, partly because he catered his response to the pandemic to winning Donald Trump's approval. That's not a surprise, considering that DeSantis ran this slavish, embarrassing pro-Trump campaign ad in 2018.

Ron DeSantis has released an ad indoctrinating his children into Trumpism www.youtube.com

Casey DeSantis, Ron DeSantis's wife who willingly appeared in this spot, is one of DeSantis's key advisers. She's probably nice and all, but she's not an infectious disease expert. DeSantis also relies on the savvy political advice of his chief of staff, Shane Strum, who was a hospital executive but not a doctor.

From the Washington Post:

"It's a universe of three — Shane and Casey," said one Republican consultant close to DeSantis's team who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment.

It's not hard to see how everything went so wrong so quickly.

DeSantis bragged about his COVID-19 response just a few weeks ago. Now, one out of every 52 Floridians is infected with the virus. Over the weekend, Florida surpassed New York state in total confirmed coronavirus cases: 423,855. Far fewer Floridians have died so far than in New York, but God knows how long that'll hold. The governor declared “Mission Accomplished" in May in a video that will haunt him for whatever remains of his political career.

Thursday, Trump called off the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville because even he realized people weren't going to show up. Back in May, Trump and DeSantis were denying the best recommendations of medical experts and gleefully planning a big triumphant bash. Trump asked DeSantis if people would have to wear masks. DeSantis said no. The president asked the governor if the “virus would be a problem," as if the virus was a labor union threatening one of his real estate projects. DeSantis promised the virus wouldn't be a problem in August, which is a week away. There's no telling when Florida will recover or contain the virus sufficiently to safely host large-scale events, but it definitely won't be next month.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, DeSantis was looking forward to a starring role at the convention. He'd hobnob with fat cats and negotiate a fair purchase price with “deep-pocketed" donors. He was also in key position for a primetime speaking slot that would set the stage for a presidential run in 2024.

Now the dream is over. DeSantis was one of many political hacks who tried to model themselves after Trump in hopes of emulating his unlikely 2016 success. But Trump-ism isn't effective governing. Like the president, DeSantis also sidelined experts who told him things he didn't want to hear. He refused to issue a statewide mask mandate or extend stay-at-home orders that proved effective for states with competent governors. He also reportedly ordered data manipulated to justify his actions, causing honorable people to resign. He's followed the lead of Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about schools reopening in the fall, and the state teachers union has sued him because they don't want to die.

Trump has praised DeSantis in the past, but it's only a matter of time before he cuts his “protege" loose and lays all the blame for this growing disaster at his feet. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

[Tampa Bay Times / Washington Post]

Stephen Robinson on Twitter.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).


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