Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used a flimsy excuse to avoid meeting with President Joe Biden today, when Biden visited the state to survey the damage from the latest hurricane. To be clear, DeSantis doesn’t have some strategy for refusing to meet with Biden. DeSantis is just afraid to do it. These things are tricky, and DeSantis knows he has no political savvy or social skills, so he’s hiding from the moment like a coward.
DeSantis knows he’ll take heat for dodging Biden today. It’ll drive his collapsing poll numbers even lower. And yet he’s concluded that if he did meet with Biden, he’d screw it up so badly that it would do even more damage to his numbers than dodging Biden.
DeSantis is surely afraid that if he were to meet with Biden like this, he could end up coming off like then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did when he had an allegedly too enthusiastic meeting with then-President Obama after Hurricane Sandy. But if Christie had dodged meeting with Obama entirely, Christie would have taken serious heat for that as well. If you keep dodging these kinds of big moments for fear you’re going to blow them, you’re never going to make it on the national stage.
Let’s not forget that this is who Ron DeSantis has been all along, from the very start of his political career: socially awkward, politically clueless, frequently resorting to going into hiding. It’s defined DeSantis’ entire tenure in Florida, even as the media (on both sides) created a fictional savvy version of him for ratings. It’s how I knew all along, and many of you knew as well, that DeSantis’ support would collapse the minute he stepped onto the national stage. He was always this much of a scared hesitant joke.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report