By Rick Wilson
Twenty-five years ago, the infamous Blue Pill changed the game for men of a certain age, proof-positive of better living through chemistry. Where the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak, Viagra addressed the problem. Call your doctor to brag if it lasts more than four hours.
There’s no blue pill for electile dysfunction, and Ron DeSantis suffers from that pernicious condition affecting politicians of a certain position in the political food chain. His flaccid campaign is frustrated and struggling, staring at the ceiling and trying to recapture those moments in his younger political days when it all seemed easy and fun.
In my alternate character as Rickstradamus, I said in late 2021 that Ron DeSantis was an overpriced political stock for the GOP nomination. I was shushed by both Democrats and Republicans. I hate being right so often, but once again, here we are.
His limp performance is upsetting the enormous cadre of major donors who flooded his state SuperPAC during the Governor’s race with nearly $200 million in donations. It’s sent his cheer squad from the gentry conservative movement into a full-blown swivet.
Yes, we know. It was supposed to be as easy. It was supposed to be all but over by now. The field would hear “Ron DeSantis” and flee, screaming for the hills, pausing only to beg for mercy and forgiveness.
In their desperation to leave Trump in the past, the Establishment donor class behind DeSantis gave to the tune of over $200 million dollars, and he was sucked into the seductive error mode of primary politics, that the easy days were ahead and that his low-effort re-election was how the Presidential primary would run. His seemingly bland nature let the National Review Conservative Inc. types project onto him what they imagined he’d be as a leader and a candidate.
He was neither. On the leadership front, he’s proven to be the worst kind of bully and authoritarian, creating a new category of big-government Republicans willing to use all the tools of the state to punish his enemies and reward his donors. As a candidate? A Republican friend of mine close to DeSantis world says, “Let’s just acknowledge he’s in the lower quartile of candidate skill.”
And still, 2016 is repeating itself with plodding familiarity as campaign staffers tell reporters the same lies about their clients. “The base is with us. They’re ready for a change. Candidate X is the New Hotness.” Tell me if this one sounds familiar as proof that the media has learned nothing; “Chris Christie’s the race’s straight-talker, laying it down like only a Jersey guy can. Once he gets on the debate stage, Trump is done.”
Once again, the litany of former candidates who took this bait is long. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was the darling of the donor class in 2016, with the family name, deep political experience, and a wildly successful track record as Florida’s first modern conservative Governor. Marco Rubio, the rising star of rising stars in the GOP, was going to wow the primary electorate with eloquence and strong debate performances, right? Scott Walker, Tim Pawlenty. Bobby Freaking Jindal. The list goes on and on. “But it was so easy in my last statewide!”
All of those candidates and campaigns that littered the floor in 2016 had at least an argument for victory, a crisp predicate for their candidacies. Ron DeSantis tried on a new one, and it flopped; lib-owning, troll-in-chief edgelord.
He hired a claque of very-online dipshit post-MAGA scamfluencers, several of whom turned out to be either racists, anti-semites, and worse. He tried memeing his way to the highest office in the land.
DeSantis is, at the end of the day, a petty, cruel, and small man, and it shows. The cliche of the leader driven by a conniving, ambitious wife with better instincts is a song as old as time, but sometimes, it’s true.
The idea he’d win the Elon/Tucker/Daily Stormer primary and then transition back to the center for the general would have been evidently flawed from the jump, but DeSantis took advice from his egregiously terrible comms strategist Christina Pushaw and his wife Casey, the Evita of the Florida Panhandle.
Casey DeSantis made a category error of conflating her undenied talent in front of the camera for strategic insight behind it. (I make one hell of a TV ad, but I’d never confuse myself with being a candidate; both skills are a gift, and no one has both at once.)
As his campaign got deeper in the weeds with the meme-war mindset and released a campaign ad that was simultaneously the most homophobic and homoerotic piece of media since Spartacus, DeSantis has been in free fall with his donors, and worse, the political media class that had been breathlessly covering him as the second coming.
With all the resources he had, with the money and the desire to be past Trump and the establishment firmly behind him, he had the chance to run a better, bigger, happy warrior campaign. He had a chance to tell a great story and chose not to. Instead, he went to the lowest common denominator and pitched himself to the grotesque, the outliers, the racists, the weirdos, the conspiracy nuts, and the anti-VAX lunatics.
DeSantis will grind along after the coming blow-up in his campaign team (Casey’s people are already putting lists in their Trapper Keepers for the coming purge) and praying for Trump to suffer a stroke or worse. It’s not much on which to base a campaign.
It’s certainly not giving him the lift he desperately needs. There’s no medicine for that.