My friend who reads the New York Times called my attention to this frontpage piece about tension between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. It’s by Times stalwarts Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin, who probably had plenty of fun writing it.
They report that Trump has become unhappy with DeSantis because the Florida governor won’t say he’d step aside if, as seems likely, Trump decides to run for president in 2024. According to the Times, Trump believes (with justification, I think) that he put DeSantis on the map. From this, Trump concludes (without justification, I think) that DeSantis should not stand in the way of the former president’s future political ambitions.
Trump hasn’t yet blasted DeSantis by name. However, he ripped “gutless” politicians who dodge the question of whether they have been vaccinated against covid, fearing blowback from vaccine skeptics. DeSantis hasn’t said whether he’s received anti-covid shots.
“The answer is ‘Yes,’” Trump said in an interview last month, “but they don’t want to say it because they’re gutless — you got to say it, whether you had it or not, say it.”
I agree with Trump. Governors who have been vaccinated should say so to reassure the public that the vaccine is safe. Governors who reject the vaccine out of safety or other concerns should share those concerns with their constituents.
Meanwhile, DeSantis, presumably responding to Trump’s pointed remarks about vaccination and guts, criticized Trump’s early response to the pandemic, in which he backed lockdowns. According to the Times, DeSantis said he regretted not being more vocal in his complaints.
It’s fair, I suppose, to criticize Trump’s early support of lockdowns. However, we’re talking here about March and April of 2020, before much was known about the Wuhan coronavirus and how its spread might be stopped or slowed. Everyone was shooting in the dark back then.
That DeSantis is looking at the matter with 20-20 hindsight is clear. He admits not being vocal enough in his complaints.
But it’s actually worse than that, from an anti-lockdown perspective. DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order in April 2020.
From where I sit, then, Trump has the better of his jousting with DeSantis on covid. But then, the jousting isn’t about winning my support which, by the way, would go to DeSantis in a contest against Trump. It’s about winning support from people whose views on vaccination and, to some extent, lockdowns diverge from mine.
Meanwhile, Haberman and Martin couldn’t resist providing Ann Coulter’s entertaining take on the Trump-DeSantis mini-clash. Coulter tweeted:
Trump is demanding to know Ron DeSantis’s booster status, and I can now reveal it. He was a loyal booster when Trump ran in 2016, but then he learned our president was a liar and con man whose grift was permanent.
Contacted by the Times for more commentary, she added:
Trump is done. You guys should stop obsessing over him.
This strikes me as wishful thinking. Trump isn’t done and even if were, the Times wouldn’t stop obsessing over him.