The Ron DeSantis announcement disaster set new records for utter weirdness and personal abasement during the MAGA era. It was a parody of dysfunction, incompetence and ego that unspooled like a script from HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley.’ Squeezed between two self-important and loquacious billionaires — one being the richest man in the world — DeSantis was reduced to a prop at his own announcement. He was truly the invisible man.
DeSantis is running in a lane that will narrow and collapse on him. He is running as “diet Trump.” He promises the full range of culture war insanity with less insanity. He is a shadow of Trump, an imitator and an opportunist, who navigates from moment to moment hoping that he winds up in the right position. Ron DeSantis is trying to position himself as a winner who can lift MAGA to victory. The problem with his plan is that he refuses to say that Trump lost, or more importantly, that he is a loser. He constantly tries to have it both ways. He is promising to pardon the January 6th insurrectionists, while accusing Trump of turning the country over to Fauci, who, coincidentally, retired last year. DeSantis is running against Fauci, while mostly defending Trump, who seems to terrify him.
Presently, DeSantis is in a vulnerable position. He will be attacked by Trump from above, and Haley, Scott, Christie and Pence from below. The target will be DeSantis’s Florida narrative and his peculiar personality. Look for this dynamic to play out during the early debates. The focus will be on Trump heading into the first debate, but the pile-on will fall on DeSantis, who will continue to drop against Trump in the weeks ahead.
The race for the GOP nomination is less about who will win it than who will emerge as Trump’s chief rival. The contest for that position is between Tim Scott and DeSantis. Scott will move up, while DeSantis falls in the months ahead. Chris Christie will keep Trump on the defense in the debates, but won’t be able to attract support himself. His aggressiveness will make DeSantis look weak and small. There is only one candidate on the debate stage who will benefit from that dynamic: Tim Scott.
The key questions are: who can win somewhere early, and where can DeSantis win? It’s tough to see, but it is easy to see Tim Scott skinning Trump in Iowa.
There is another factor at play. It is the issue of corruption. The MAGA movement is fantastically corrupt. All autocratic movements are corrupt. In fact, the corruption is elemental. The rot is running very deep in the MAGA movement at this moment. The state of Texas provides a perfect illustration as the extremist Texas House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach the corrupt extremist Attorney General Ken Paxton. Scores of MAGA leaders are under investigation from Trump to Matt Schlapp to Ken Paxton. Thus far, there has been broad indifference to these issues when Democrats have raised them. What is coming is MAGA-on-MAGA accusations. They are a wild card.
The MAGA/GOP presidential primary contest is now fully underway. It will be a national disgrace of epic dimensions. It will be a small, petty, vicious affair where extremism is as routinely incited as violence. Ahead is a campaign of anger, grievance and revenge. Each day will be appalling. Yet in the end, the American people will decide. The decision could be a final one in this election. There is only one party that remains faithful to liberty, freedom and the American way of life. The MAGA movement is advancing a dogma of failed ideology and a desire to control private behavior with government mandates. It is a scary time.
The movement that Trump and DeSantis seeks to lead is a minority movement in America. It depends on apathy to succeed. If it does succeed the American experiment will enter its death throes just shy of the 250th anniversary of independence. In the overall scheme of things it doesn’t really matter if America’s first dictator is named Ron or Don. Both are hostile to democracy and America’s ideals. They stand together on that front. When they are bludgeoning each other it will be easy to forget that Trump and DeSantis stand together. They stand together against all of us. They must be defeated.
The Warning with Steve Schmidt is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
- "all the King's men" are falling. Stewart Rhodes III (Oath Keeper's leader) just got sentenced to 18 years in prison for seditious conspiracy.
- Trumpty Dumpty is about to fall via various criminal and civil prosecutions; and he'll fall politically too.
- Biden will win reelection. Probably by a fairly large margin. Large enough to overcome the systemic inequality of the Electoral College.
- Thank God for Biden and the only political party supporting democracy and trying to make this place better for all people.
Neither Trump or DeSantis are fit to serve in any capacity. Both are committed to undermining our democracy for their own benefits! Those Americans who are opposed to their fascist model of governance must unite to defeat them! Thanks Steve for your efforts to bring sunlight to this issue!