My governor has outdone himself. A Harvard Law School grad, he recently dismissed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that he does not like. Ron DeSantis, running for reelection and the 2024 GOP presidential nomination jointly, also branded two conservative justices with whom he disagreed as lacking “backbone.” The two justices had the gumption to join with three “liberal” justices to uphold a Biden administration policy. The policy requires medical facilities to compel workers to get Covid vaccines or face the loss of federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. Even a DeSantis administration alumna had to check the governor for his failure to obey a ruling from the Supreme Court. “Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew said that centers receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding could still implement vaccine mandates for their employees.
“’Hospitals are obligated to remain compliant with the programs’ conditions of participation and must comply with this federal vaccine requirement now upheld by the highest court,’ said Mayhew, who previously worked in the DeSantis administration, according to Florida Politics.”
The governor’s play to the tough, hell-no crowd came after fellow Florida resident Donald John Trump labeled DeSantis “gutless” for cowardly declining to tell a Fox News host whether he had gotten a Covid booster shot.
DeSantis fired back, saying Trump imposed lockdowns when he was president. The fearless leader of my state atoned to this extent, according to press reports. He lamented that he did not speak up more forcefully against the Trump “tyranny”. Of course, DeSantis neglected to mention that he had supported lockdowns before he opposed them; even forcing Broward County barkeeps to protest for the governor to open up bars so people could get drunk and Covid at the same time. All in the name of keeping our economy free. DeSantis finally relented, and Covid surged a few times in the Sunshine State. About 63,000 Covid deaths and counting is a small price to pay to appease the politically aggrieved and stoke multiple levels of raw political ambition at the same time.
DeSantis, who fesses up to not speaking up enough when Trump was president, demonstrated his curious understanding of freedom in another way at the start of the pandemic. He placed State Troopers at the Alabama – Florida border to execute “checkpoints” to protect Floridians from the spread of Covid. Was the governor right to do this? What was the context at that time? Does DeSantis view this action in hindsight as an afront to freedom?
Of course, our governor is singing from a different political music sheet these days. Anything goes in the name of “freedom”. I can tell school boards what to do. I can order private businesses to do what I want. I can tell the Supreme Court to go to hell. All the while, a marvelous banner dances across the Twitter account of his communications expert, Christina Pushaw. It says, “Don’t Tread on Florida”. Get it? Revolution is in the air; suggesting that we are all-powerful; that we know best.
Perhaps DeSantis learned lessons from his early “mistakes”, or maybe he is also a quick learner politically. Either way, his grasp of absolute power harmonizes with whatever instrument he picks up. Lockdowns are good; lockdowns are bad. Border checkpoints are good; OMG, no, they are bad. A man with ruthless zeal for power can say what he wants, and stay faithful to his changing stances because he has gobs of money in his campaign bank accounts, free rein as a celebrity guest star on Fox News, and three Democrats fighting each other for the right to oppose him in the fall. DeSantis also has the subservient backing of a Republican-controlled state House and Senate which is in session now in Tallahassee, gleefully serving “red meat” to the adoring MAGA crowd.
Completing the chorus of the aggrieved are people ready, willing, and able to challenge Trump for his throne. Ann Coulter, a Palm Beach resident, and former Trump backer, now calls the former president a “liar and a con man”. She said this without irony, in defense of her new hero, DeSantis.
Will Trump call out DeSantis for placing Medicare and Medicaid funds for some seniors in jeopardy? Will DeSantis have to face the consequences of his actions? Or will his words elude an honesty and responsibility checkpoint?
This piece initially ran at Substack newsletter. Visit here.