An in-depth look at my main man, Ron DeSantis.
At Yale, DeSantis majored in history and played on the baseball team, in the outfield. In the Yale tradition, the team never had a winning season while DeSantis was there. (“Pretty sure we were the worst team in Division One,” one of his teammates told me.) In his senior year, he was among the best hitters, batting .336, and was elected captain. His former teammates’ recollections are sharply divided, but nearly everyone I spoke with remembered him as singularly focussed, with little time for parties or goofing off; he worked several jobs to help pay his tuition. “Ron was a bit of a loner, not a social butterfly,” Dave Fortenbaugh, a former teammate, told me. “He spent a lot of hours in the library.”
Some recalled that DeSantis was so intensely focussed that he wasn’t much of a teammate. “Ron is the most selfish person I have ever interacted with,” another teammate told me. “He has always loved embarrassing and humiliating people. I’m speaking for others—he was the biggest dick we knew.” But the same teammate praised DeSantis’s intellect. “This is the frustrating part. He’s so fucking smart and so creative,” he said. “You couldn’t even plagiarize off his work. He’d take some angle, and everyone knew there was only one person who could have done that.”
After graduating, with honors, DeSantis taught history for a year at the Darlington School, a private institution in Rome, Georgia, before enrolling at Harvard Law School; a friend told me that he’d been inspired by the movie “A Few Good Men.” In the film, Tom Cruise plays a judge advocate general—a Navy attorney—who defends marines accused of a deadly assault at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base. With the war in Iraq still raging, DeSantis, too, became a judge advocate general. He was posted to Naval Station Mayport, near Jacksonville, and also to Guantánamo, where he dealt with detainees. A colleague who served with DeSantis remembered, “Ron was a voracious worker, and he worked at phenomenal speed. He was a superb writer, especially for his age.” Even then, his ambition seemed consuming. “Ron’s a user,” the former colleague told me. “If you had utility to him, he would be nice to you. If you didn’t, he wouldn’t give you the time of day.”
In 2007, DeSantis deployed to Iraq as a lawyer for seal Team One, which was conducting operations in Ramadi. The seals have a reputation for being secretive and insular, but DeSantis enjoyed their company, his father told me: “He worked out with them.” DeSantis briefed the seals on rules of engagement—when they could shoot, how they should treat prisoners. “Of course we were worried about him,” his father said. “Ron told us he was just in one place, in Ramadi, but afterwards we found out that he’d been moving all around the area, from city to city, with the seals. It really upset my wife.”
Back in Florida, DeSantis started dating Casey Black, a television news reporter for WJXT, in Jacksonville; in 2010, they were married. Not long afterward, a seat opened up in the Sixth Congressional District, south of Jacksonville Beach. In 2012, DeSantis entered the race.
DeSantis campaigned on smaller government and lower taxes, arguing to overturn Obamacare and eliminate entire federal agencies. “My mission was largely to stop Barack Obama,” he told a crowd later. As the campaign got under way, DeSantis published a book titled “Dreams from Our Founding Fathers”—a swipe at the President’s memoir. For a campaign book, it’s unusually wide-ranging, with carefully argued sections on the Federalist Papers, the Progressive Era, and the leftist theoretician Saul Alinsky. The basic contention, though, would have been familiar to followers of Barry Goldwater: “The conceit that underlies many of Obama’s policies and his allies is that virtually any issue, from the waistline of children to the temperature of the earth, is ripe for intervention of expert (and progressive) central planners.” DeSantis’s book was largely ignored—he once told a crowd that it was “read by about a dozen people”—but his message resonated in the Sixth District, one of the most conservative in the state. He won the election, and was reëlected twice by wide margins.
In Congress, an institution where seniority matters, DeSantis had little time to make a substantive impact. Theatrically, though, he created an impression. He helped found the Freedom Caucus, an invitation-only club of hard-right conservatives, and he was among the Republicans who took the government to the brink of default by refusing to raise the national-debt ceiling. Many people worried that the move would harm the government’s credit rating and the country’s economy. Even John Boehner, the House Speaker, opposed it. In response, DeSantis joined a group of Republican congressmen who threatened to remove Boehner from his post. “There were governing conservatives and shutdown conservatives,” David Jolly, a congressman from Florida who served with DeSantis, told me. “Ron was a shutdown conservative.”
Many of DeSantis’s colleagues remember him as remote. A former member of the Florida delegation told me, “He always had his earbuds in, to keep people away.” Others, like Jolly, had a more temperate view. “He’s a little reclusive, a bit of an odd duck,” Jolly said, “but he’s just incredibly disciplined.”
For anybody who’s as fervent a DeSantis fanboi as I am, this is one heck of an absorbing article. For those of you who aren’t necessarily so solidly in the DeSantis camp just yet, there’s a lot in it you’ll enjoy nonetheless. Caveat: since it’s the New Yorker we’re talking about here, be prepared to pull your hip waders all the way up to your chin; you’ll be wading through a veritable Okeefenokee Swamp of liberal bullshit and wouldn’t want to get yourself coated from top to toe in the nasty, stinky ichor. Exhibit A:
For decades, the Democratic Party had commanded a majority of Florida’s registered voters. But the state was changing, as Trump’s election helped energize a shift in political affinities. The Republican Party’s rank and file became increasingly radical, and G.O.P. leaders appeared only too happy to follow them. “There was always an element of the Republican Party that was batshit crazy,” Mac Stipanovich, the chief of staff to Governor Bob Martinez, a moderate Republican, told me. “They had lots of different names—they were John Birchers, they were ‘movement conservatives,’ they were the religious right. And we did what every other Republican candidate did: we exploited them. We got them to the polls. We talked about abortion. We promised—and we did nothing. They could grumble, but their choices were limited.
All those stupid Trumpians, just useful idiots waiting to be exploited by the more intelligent “moderates” whose sole ambition upon gaining office is to betray the drooling schmucks who vote for them as reliably as yesterday’s sunrise, regardless of how many GOPe knives they’ve had to pull from between their shoulder blades over all those years of Old Yeller-style loyalty. “Increasingly radical,” “batshit crazy”—by which they mean “actually conservative,” “principled,” and “enthusiastic.” Do please note that, as with every Establishment Media propaganda outlet, the New Yorker will never allow the words “radical” and “Democrat” to appear in the same sentence. Exhibit B:
“So what happened?” Stipanovich continued. “Trump opened Pandora’s box and let them out. And all the nasty stuff that was in the underbelly of American politics got a voice. What was thirty-five per cent of the Republican Party is now eighty-five per cent. And it’s too late to turn back.”
“All the nasty stuff that was in the underbelly of American politics”—you listening out there, Joe and Jane Lunchbucket? Because as far as Uniparty factotums are concerned, they’re playing your song with the above condescending tripe. Now if all you McDonald’s-eating, WalMart-shopping, God-bothering, Coors-Lite-slurping, burger-grilling, New Yorker-ignoring, blue-collar-working mouthbreathers would kindly just lock yourselves back into Pandora’s box again, we can get back to ruling you disgusting fatbody boobs, as is our Divine Right.
“Nasty stuff” let out by Trump, to the undying mortification of Beltway Bandits one and all—that would be what Real Americans know as simple, common-sense, Constitutional conservatism. Y’know, revolting, freakishly depraved scrapings from off the distended American underbelly such as, oh, say, religious faith; a strictly limited central government; an abiding respect for tradition, family ties, and our shared American heritage; independence of mind and of spirit; a natural, unpretentious sense of patriotism, duty, and pride in American strength and success.
If you can overlook the obnoxious current of petty, supercilious conceit and effete urban sanctimony that runs through this entire piece like a strong shore-side undertow, there really is a great bounty of information to be found here, and much to be learned from it. There’s an irritating trend I’m noticing more and more of lately, however: the self-evident Establishment Media campaign to gin up some real hostility between Trump and DeSantis, a transparent ploy intended to dilute and deflect the burgeoning opposition to the Conqueror Left’s long, victorious march by pitting the movement’s two most important leadership figures against one another. It’s another dismaying example of The Enemy’s unswerving focus on retaining the initiative via keeping its Offensive squad always on the field, while the Deee-fense stays on the sidelines riding the pines. That’s been a brilliantly successful game plan for the Left over recent years, notching win after unanswered win for Team Tyranny. Hopefully, both Trump and DeSantis are savvy enough players not to let themselves be taken in by it this go-round.
The New Yorker, casting about for an effective weapon to wield against a suddenly rising political star they clearly fear and loathe, expends a ludicrous amount of effort and column-inches on slamming the Florida Governor’s appropriately liberty-oriented Chinky Pox response. In this long piece they trot out the very same litany of distortion and escalating fabrication that permanently obliterated the public’s trust in its governmental, health care, and national-media institutions, in hopes that they’ll work equally well to discredit DeSantis’s staunch resistance to permitting Florida to lapse into panic-driven medical tyranny on his watch.
Alas for them, there’s something those poor media dears just aren’t seeing, and the irony of it is hilarious.
As the death toll mounted, he was mocked by critics as “DeathSantis” and denounced by the mainstream press. “Any public distrust of this administration has been well-earned,” the Miami Herald editorial board wrote. “We can’t trust the governor with our lives.” A former political adviser with knowledge of the covid response told me that DeSantis was unfazed: “We were getting crucified, but to him it was just noise.” DeSantis revels in defying what he sees as a corrupt and self-satisfied liberal establishment. Those who work closely with him say that he is unique among elected officials in his disregard for public opinion and the press. “Ron’s strength as a politician is that he doesn’t give a fuck,” a Republican consultant who knows him told me. “Ron’s weakness as a politician is that he doesn’t give a fuck. Big donors? He doesn’t give a shit. Cancels on them all the time.”
Maybe you ink-stained wretches should sit down for this staggering revelation, but you’ll be seeing a whole lot more disregard for the press henceforth, and not just from DeSantis either. There are uncounted millions of us out there who have been waiting for years—decades—for a leader who shares our disgust with the corrupt and self-satisfied liberal establishment to come along, one with the cojones to revel in defying the sorry bastards.
DeSantis might be “unique among elected officials” in his disdain for the liberal press, but that attitude is universal among MAGA people, America Firsters, Trump supporters, and DeSantis fans. Trust me, whenever Ron or his press secretary, the seriously awesome Christina Pushaw, take off the gloves to throw some bare-knuckles haymakers at liberal-media glass jaws, there are hordes of DeSantis People cheering him or her on. When some press-gaggle carbuncle waxes all butthurt over not being treated quite as deferentially as His Royal Carbuncleness had come to expect, whereupon Our Boy refuses to be intimidated by the wormy likes of him, throws press-room politesse to the wind, and doubles down on his verbal Alpha strike instead, our delight in Da Guv soars to new heights.
See, it’s like this: we don’t like you cringing hyenas one jot or tittle more than Ron DeSantis does. The more openly he hates you, the more we love him for it. It’s why any of your number still foolish or delusional enough to imagine himself a respected and admired Hero Of The Proletariat™ is going to suffer a terrible shock any minute now, a powerful enough one to potentially stop his heart for good. Because any minute now, it’s going to be brought home to the fool that, when Trump characterized the shitlib media as not merely a nuisance but in fact a deadly enemy of the Republic, We The People agreed completely with his assessment. We’d realized it already, and were glad that somebody finally had the guts to come right out and speak the plain truth without any of the usual hemming and hawing around.
We are legion. We are fed up. And we can only be pushed so far before we start to push back. The meteoric rise of Ron DeSantis is but the barest beginning of it. And the harder shitlibs weep and wail about what a mean old poopyhead Fascist he is, the harder we will laugh at their absurd melodramatics, and the bigger our army will become.