Like former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis likes to show off his strength. And like Trump, he makes the blameworthy mistake of bravado.
Just before a press conference at the University of South Florida on Wednesday, the governor of Florida and the 2024 Republican presidential candidate went to a group of seven high school students standing behind his podium, wearing a mask.
Knowing full well that his remarks would be heard in a quiet room filled with TV cameras, he strode over to the children and pointed.
“You don’t have to wear those masks,” the governor said. “I mean, take them off. Honestly, it doesn’t do anything and we have to stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous. ”
The entire episode is a mere 10 seconds long, but DeSantis got it right. With words, tone and body language – he lets them know who the boss is. By asking them to take off their masks, he tacitly ordered them to do so. And then by saying “if you want to wear it, fine,” he pretends to respect someone’s decision to wear a mask, before immediately undercutting any supposed sincerity by added “but this is ridiculous.”
It’s a head-to-head game, like a schoolyard bully that cornered a kid in front of a crowd of his peers and said, “You can wear that stupid shirt if you want to, but it’s ridiculous.”
And to avoid the governor’s victory being misunderstood, DeSantis telegraphed anti-mask signal by sighing exasperatedly and shaking his head as he finally stepped onto the podium.
DeSantis’ political reputation rests primarily on two things: banning local communities from imposing mask mandates, and sign a number of laws banning certain forms of free speech in the name of “defending freedom of speech.”
So you can understand why he would feel powerful when he was photographed with schoolgirls wearing masks.
But is he right?
Yes a case was made against school mask regulations. There are reasonable arguments (which I have made) that the widespread use of face coverings by students can impedes education, as well as social and cognitive development. Yes many good reasons for skepticism about the sudden change in CDC guidance on masks, as well as Curious time travel of the mask quest in a wide range of cities and states with deep Democrats — as well as Democrats getting the message that voters consider them to be the party belong to endless school closures and senseless COVID safe theater.
All of that has happened, to greedy and weak children to score cheap political points.
You can also protest against mask regulations and not react to seeing teenagers wearing masks as if it were a social disgrace and a personal insult.
But that’s not Big DeSantis Strength.
Instead, the governor treated the anxious students as if they were “the mass media” or “Big Pharma” or whoever he was pursuing for political influence during the week. this. He behaves as if they are problems he is struggling with. And he certainly knows they’re an audience captive to his words and wouldn’t dare say it back to him.
It was a bully move. And bullies are cowards.
In fact, DeSantis is a coward, so frightened of his own party’s COVID vaccine base that he won’t say one way or another if he gets a booster shot.
Trump even made a concealed swipe at his likely 2024 adversary, told the far-right One America News Network of his boost: “I watched a few politicians being interviewed and one of the questions was , ‘Did you get a boost?’ Because they’ve got the vaccine, and they’re answering – in other words, the answer is ‘yes’, but they don’t want to say, because they don’t have guts. You have to say it, whether you do or not, say it. ”
A bully and a coward himself, Trump knows “can’t hold back” when he sees it.
DeSantis is a big alpha when it comes to using kids as props in his anti-mask rage, but he’s a shy beta when it comes to venturing into rage due to voters’ anti-vaccination sensitivities Republican Party.