A fun note on which to end the week, in which a Republican who wants to be president but whose path is momentarily blocked returns serve against a Democrat who wants to be president but whose path is momentarily blocked.

I repeat what I said a week ago. DeSantis vs. Newsom is the only plausible 2024 match-up that wouldn’t be soul-crushing on one or both sides. It would be high-energy, enjoyably nasty, and a true battle of ideologues after two cycles of mushy Democratic nominees. Populist post-Trump conservatism versus balls-out progressivism, the culture war to end all culture wars.

DeSantis would win. If you believe the country is on the wrong track, as practically everyone does, and yearn for a return to optimism, a match-up between a governor whose state is famously growing in population and a governor whose state is famously losing it is not a good match-up for the left. That’s their political problem in a nutshell, in fact, an unshakable sense of decline. Their leaders are freakishly old and key parts of the coalition that was supposed to secure them a permanent majority are peeling off.

Imagine a de facto national referendum on whether you’d like America to be more like Florida or more like California. Republicans might win the popular vote for the first time in 20 years.

Either way, DeSantis versus Newsom would be a contest of two candidates who know their policy and are capable of making the case for their agendas effectively. By comparison, a second Trump vs. Biden election would sound like two guys at the retirement home arguing while watching the evening news. The coherence gap between those two scenarios is off the charts.

Here’s the clip of DeSantis, which picks up with a reporter asking him if he has any reaction to Newsom’s recent criticisms of him. His response is sharp and effective, albeit familiar to Newsom’s many conservative antagonists. Exit question: If DeSantis versus Newsom doesn’t grab you, how about … Carlson versus Stewart?

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