You know, I wasn’t expecting to write again this week, but an all-time rant from former President Donald Trump on his Truth Social site forced me back to the keyboard before week’s end. After his chief rival for the 2024 nomination, Ron DeSantis, needled Trump about “hush money to a porn star,” Trump took off the gloves.
I’ll start with a screenshot of the rant, which is not only entertaining but also elucidating for reasons I’ll get to afterwards:
I mean… this guy was President of the United States! Can you believe it sometimes? I still hold out hope we expunge his term from the record books. For the four year period from 2017 to 2021, I want an empty box on all the textbooks, posters, and other merchandise, with a little footnote that says, “He Who Shall Not Be Named.”
That said, no president — and I mean no president — has ever been more laugh out loud hilarious, and this week’s rant against his top rival for the 2024 Republican nomination was but another boulder on the absolute mountain of evidence we have to support that statement. At the same time, we can learn a lot from it, particularly where Trump will dig the fault lines of the upcoming Republican Primary.
Let’s get to it. We’re going line by incredible line. Ladies and gentlemen, your former and perhaps future President:
“Now that Ron DeSanctimonious is finally admitting he’s in the Race by beginning to fight back, and now that his Polls have crashed so he has no other choice, let me explain the facts.”
- I have to say, I’m surprised he’s sticking with “Ron DeSanctimonious.” It’s not only a polysyllabic nightmare, but it’s a thinker and too cute by half. But I guess he thinks he has something. We know he trotted out the sublime Meatball Ron there for a while, and there was the weird Ron DeSanctus for a second. If I were advising him, I’d say to use a simple “Establishment Ron.” I guess we’ll see if he reads Presidential Politics For America.
- What’s with capitalizing Race and Polls? Just what kind of maniac are we dealing with here?
- Have DeSantis’s polls “crashed”? Not exactly. The polling is far too discordant to say DeSantis is “crashing.” If anything, the problem was that the media, in the wake of the 2022 midterms, too often exaggerated DeSantis’s 2024 chances and dismissed Trump’s. It was foolish, as PPFA tried to warn you. Now that it’s clear the evidence didn’t match the narrative, Trump can frame it at DeSantis “crashing.” The media: helping Trump’s chances since 2015.
“He is, for a Republican, an average Governor, he got 1.2 million less Votes in Florida than me, he fought for massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and wanted Social Security minimum age to be raised to 70-years-old, or more.”
- “He got 1.2 million less Votes in Florida than me.” DeSantis has run during midterm election years (2018 and 2022), when national turnout is way down across the board, whereas Trump ran during presidential election years (2016 and 2020), when turnout is high. Either Trump is too stupid to understand the difference, or he’s counting on his supporters to be too stupid to understand the difference. I’ll let you pick.
- Ah, and then we get to the important stuff. Trump’s thoughts on Social Security and Medicare are central to the upcoming Republican Primary. More on that after the next line.
“He is a disciple of Paul Ryan, and did whatever Ryan told him to do.”
A Paul Ryan reference! Wow. If you’ve forgotten — and you would be forgiven if you had — Paul Ryan was the 2012 Republican nominee for VP, and let me tell you, there are few notable people in history more forgettable than losing VP nominees. (Quick, who was George McGovern’s VP nominee in 1972? Told ya.)
Paul Ryan later bolstered his legacy by becoming Speaker of the House for less than two Congresses, including during the first half of President Trump’s term before Trump squandered away Republicans’ House majority in epic fashion. Ryan hasn’t been a lawmaker for over four years, but Trump never lets a good bogeyman go to waste.
In this case, linking DeSantis to Ryan on the heels of the Social Security and Medicare comment tells us everything we need to know about what Trump will put front and center in this election. Paul Ryan stands for Republican Classic: trimmer budget, entitlement reform, get people off the government dole, robust American presence overseas. It was a throughline from Goldwater to Reagan, a two-decade stretch that transformed the Republican Party from getting thrashed by Democrats in most presidential and Congressional elections to being the stronger party.
Trump, on the other hands, presided over record spending and budget deficits and a retrenchment from global affairs, all while championing the defense of entitlements that Republican Classic wanted to modify. (I swear I once wrote about how Republicans were prioritizing winning temporarily with Trump over the health of the party platform, but I can’t find it.) He’s dragged many Republicans over with him, and he thinks it’s now a winning issue — that the majority of Republicans are with him and not the establishment of the GOP represented by the likes of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Congressman Ron DeSantis, who represented Florida’s 6th Congressional District from 2013 to 2018, some of that under Ryan’s leadership of the Republican conference, before being elected Florida’s governor. It’s why, if he’s right, that “Establishment Ron” would be such a perfect nickname.
This primary, if it’s Trump vs. DeSantis, is a proxy war for the GOP’s platform. I’m interested to see who wins out. If Trump wins, it could terminate the values of the Republican Party. Republicans of course would flock to Trump in the general election, and they’ll again get some judges and deregulation out of a Trump victory, but the party he bequeaths to them when he finally leaves politics will be considerably different than the one he inherited from Paul Ryan. It makes one wonder whether Republicans’ short-term gains from the Trump era outweigh the long-term consequences.
“Florida has been successful for many years, long before I put Ron there—It’s amazing what Ocean and Sunshine will do!”
- On this one he’s not wrong, despite the continued strange Tactic of capitalizing random Nouns. Thanks to its attractive geography and climate, Florida has had a thriving economy for a long time, and it does indeed pre-date DeSantis.
- The part about “long before I put Ron there” will be another theme of the Republican Primary. Trump, like all good mob bosses, is big into “loyalty.” His 2018 endorsement of DeSantis for governor in the latter’s leap from Congress to the Governor’s Mansion was crucial in elevating DeSantis’s career. Trump will tell us that this fact means DeSantis should kowtow to Trump for the rest of his life. We’ll hear the same thing about Nikki Haley turning her back on Trump as well. And then probably Mike Pence, and Mike Pompeo, and everyone else who’s had to survive being a Republican by praising him publicly despite what nearly all reporting says they think of him privately. (Tucker Carlson is only the latest victim of this pattern.)
“Surprise, Ron was a big Lockdown Governor on the China Virus, sealing all beaches and everything else for an extended period of time, was Third Worst in the Nation for COVID-19 Deaths (losing 86,294 People), Third Worst for Total Number of Cases, at 7,516,906.”
- Incredible Trump here. Rest easy, everyone — “China Virus” is alive and well! No word yet on the condition of the “Kung Flu.”
- More importantly here is that Trump remains true to form in a key way: he thinks the best defense is a good offense. Whereas Trump think his winning issue is entitlements, I expect DeSantis will make his central issue that the Trump Administration fell under the spell of Fauci and the rest of the medical establishment by advising everyone to follow CDC regulations. Trump is trying to head off that charge.
- DeSantis did not “seal off beaches,” but he did ask for smaller gatherings.
- Finally, Trump again gets disingenuous with numbers. It’s true that Florida ranks third in total Covid deaths and cases, but guess what — Florida is the third most populated state in the country! Guess who the top two states in deaths and cases were: California followed by Texas, the first and second most populated states in the country. In fact, the entire top five in Covid deaths and cases exactly mirrors the top five most populous states of the US. DeSantis and Florida did exactly as well as the numbers suggest they should have done. I’m starting to think Trump is kinda shady.
“Other Republican Governors did MUCH BETTER than Ron and, because I allowed them this ‘freedom,’ never closed their States. Remember, I left that decision up to the Governors!”
- First of all, the President does not have the power to take states’ “freedom.” Covid measures, like mask mandates and closing businesses, were left to states not because the President chose to, but because the Constitution did.
- Second, governors of all political stripes did both better and worse than DeSantis. The truer measure of Covid success wouldn’t be states’ total deaths — which, again, reflect the total population of the states themselves — but deaths per capita. Here are the top ten:
I see six red states (WV, MI, AL, AR, TN, OK), three purple states (AZ, NM, MI), and a single blue state (NY). Of the ten, seven had Republican governors in 2020 and 2021, including six of the top seven. If anything, according to the ten, Republican states acquitted themselves worse than Democratic states. Nonetheless, Ron DeSantis’s Florida is not found among them. (As for the states with the lowest death rates per capita — Hawaii, Vermont, Utah, Alaska, Washington, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Colorado, and Nebraska — that’s a mix as well.)
As for Florida, it ranks 13th highest in deaths per capita, which isn’t great, but we can attribute much of that to Florida having the highest percentage of elderly citizens of any state in the country during a time where a virus disproportionately affected the elderly.
“For COVID Death Rates Per State, Ron, as Governor of Florida, did worse than New York.”
- Well, it finally happened, folks. The actual data from above tells us that Donald Trump, for the first time since he chopped down that cherry tree as a small boy whose tiny hands could barely grip the ax, told a lie. My whole world is turned upside down. If we can’t trust Donald Trump, who CAN we trust?
“In Education, Florida ranks among the worst in the Country and on crime statistics, Florida ranked Third Worst in Murder, Third Worst in Rape, and Third Worst in Aggravated Assault.”
- This sentence featured a tremendously dramatic race between capitalized words and not capitalized words. The non-capitalized words got off to a hot start, but in the back half of the sentence the big guys really made a push. Final score: a tie at 15 a piece. Bravo to both teams.
- Good lord, Trump’s writing about murder, rape, and assault. And here I thought that on January 20, 2017, American carnage was put on notice by our new President a full two years before DeSantis became Governor. I’m not sure where Trump pulled his statistics — he’s never been good at citing his sources, electing to instead insist that “many people are saying” — but I think we can assume that Florida again ranks “third” everywhere because it’s the third most populated state in the country.
“For 2022, Jacksonville was ranked as one of the Top 25 Major Crime Cities in the Country, with Tampa and Orlando not doing much better.”
- Didn’t Republicans get together and agree to blame city crime on blue mayors and not red governors? Is Trump not on the GOP Slack chat?
“On Education, Florida ranks #39 in Health & Safety in the Country, #50 in Affordability, and #30 in Education & Childcare, HARDLY GREATNESS THERE!”
- He broke out the caps lock! He’s getting fired up! I think he’s coming in for a landing.
“The fact is, Ron is an average Governor, but the best by far in the Country in one category, Public Relations, where he easily ranks Number One—But it is all a Mirage, just look at the facts and figures, they don’t lie—And we don’t want Ron as our President!”
- Frankly, public relations is one of the most important qualities for a presidential candidate and president. If anyone should appreciate that, it’s Trump.
- Here we can see his brain finally give up as it starts to mistake dashes for periods. It’s not easy writing in paragraphs. Just ask a ninth grader or the 45th President of the United States.
- I can’t tell if this is one sentence or five.
- Regardless, I’m sure Democrats appreciate all the damage Trump will do to DeSantis among Republican voters. This is like what Bernie did to Hillary, but funnier.
And that gets to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it. Not only does Trump not care about core Republican principles, but he also doesn’t care if he destroys the next generation of Republican politicians. Republican voters, aside from the most devout Trumpers, must squirm in their seats reading Trump’s diatribe, but this is exactly what he’s been like for the last eight years. The only difference is now it’s happening to someone they actually like.
One last thing. Some might wonder why Trump would start hurting DeSantis before he’s even in the race. I think it’s obvious. Of the handful of scenarios for this 2024 Republican Primary (broken down by yours truly), Trump is most reliably the winner if DeSantis isn’t in the field. Maybe Trump thinks he can keep DeSantis out of the race altogether if he fires some salvoes across his broadside. He may even be back-channeling as we speak, promising profuse praise on DeSantis if he waits another four years, which would make him a heavy favorite for the 2028 nomination.
I’ve written time and again that DeSantis, despite being goaded by many insiders to run, should actually wait, rather than alienate Trump’s voters. Maybe a rant like this finally convinces DeSantis that I’m right. He’s an amateur grappler who would risk getting mauled by a professional.