Now that Ron DeSantis has collapsed in 2024 Republican primary polling, he’s reportedly announcing his 2024 campaign this coming week. Why is he doing something so stupid and self defeating, instead of laying low until after the DOJ hauls Trump away?
For one thing, DeSantis has zero political savvy and does stupidly self defeating things all the time, without needing a particular reason. He’s also surely under pressure from his mega donors to prove he’s serious about running. These are likely both factors in why DeSantis feels compelled to make this mistake.
After the entire mainstream media (on the left and right) spent two years hyping DeSantis, his primary polling climbed to 45%, and donors got behind him accordingly. But once Trump launched his fake 2024 campaign, DeSantis also had to start acting like a candidate, or the media and donors would start asking questions.
But the more DeSantis stuck his head out there on the national stage, the more his numbers dropped. The media promised that DeSantos was a smart savvy charismatic next big thing. The real DeSantis is more like moldy cardboard. Most people hate him, and even the people who want to like him are having a hard time doing so. And by putting himself out there so early, DeSantis became Trump’s main punching bag.
DeSantis should pull back entirely at this point. He should keep his name out of the headlines for 3-4 months, let the nation forget why they currently think he’s a joke, and try again after Trump is indicted for espionage.
Instead DeSantis is about to do the dumbest thing possible: formally enter the race immediately after his numbers collapsed, thus cementing himself as a national punchline in a way that he’ll never be able to undo – not four months from now, not four years from now.
DeSantis is probably worried that if he disappears and waits several months to enter the race, there won’t be a place for him in the field anymore, because right wing donors will have already helped some new Republican candidate to gain momentum instead.
But keep in mind that DeSantis has always had zero political savvy. He tries to use the Trump playbook but he’s clearly never understood it. That’s been obvious for years to those who have followed the actual bumbling DeSantis, and not the fictional savvy DeSantis that the (entire) media was hyping.
So of course DeSantis is the kind of panicky dummy who steps onto the national stage, sees his numbers immediately collapse, and simplistically thinks the only way to turn it around is to put himself even more thoroughly on the national stage.
DeSantis is the guy who applies for a job, has a poor interview, is told he can apply again someday once he’s worked on certain skills, and instead says “I’m not leaving until you give me this job!” Well now he’s never getting the job. Then he threatens to burn down Disney World.
The real takeaway here is that even as the entire media (Fox News and MSNBC in equal measure) was spending two years hyping DeSantis, they knew all along that he was a lifeless dummy who would flop on the national stage. For the past two years he’s been a ratings prop for the media and nothing more. The media knowingly sold the public a fictional version of DeSantis, because it was good for ratings at the time.
Someone like DeSantis may come and go, but we’re stuck with the media. In the long run we’re going to have to find a way to force the media to be more honest about these things, instead of selling us fictional political narratives to boost ratings.
In the meantime, we have to remember never to take it at face value when the media starts hyping narratives like “DeSantis is Trump but smarter.” Or narratives like “Trump will never be indicted.” Or narratives like “Trump will be the 2024 nominee no matter what.” Or narratives like “Red wave 2022.” Or narratives like “Hillary’s emails are a real scandal.” These narratives were all merely ginned up ratings-driven fiction from the start, designed to scare and outrage us into staying glued to our screens all day. Now and then we’re starkly reminded that the actual political landscape usually looks entirely different from the one that’s being portrayed on our screens.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report