I can’t find confirmation anywhere that this is part of a national ad buy but a reporter claims he saw it on Fox News last night — in Ohio.
— Taylor Popielarz (@TaylorPopielarz) August 23, 2022
It’s curious that the governor of Florida would be running ads nationally when he’s two and a half months away from being on the ballot in Florida, no? Plus, if there’s any cohort in his home state that doesn’t need convincing to reelect him, it’s surely Fox News viewers. They’re already sold.
It’s also curious that this ad has zip to do with local issues in Florida and everything to do with building DeSantis’s brand as a major antagonist of the dreaded mainstream media. That’s the sort of thing we’d expect him to do if he were looking ahead to a national run and trying to ingratiate himself to Trumpy populists, not something he’d worry about if he were laser-focused on winning over swing voters in his home state.
I warned you not to assume that the Mar-a-Lago search had dashed DeSantis’s presidential dreams. He’s clearly still thinking about it. And he should be: As Trump’s legal troubles mount, DeSantis’s comparative electability gets stronger.
“I’d rather watch Iron Eagle 4 while sliding on sandpaper,” said Adam Kinzinger of the ad, channeling Never Trumpers’ disdain for DeSantis’s “Trumpism without Trump” shtick. I get the sense that DeSantis himself found the concept a tad cheesy, as he seems at times during the spot to be suppressing a laugh. (Some lefties are comparing it to Michael Dukakis’s infamous ride in a tank, never mind that DeSantis really was once a JAG in the Navy.) I’ll give him this: Analogizing aerial combat and military heroism to petulantly sh*t-talking the media is a pitch-perfect satire of the bravado with which some of the populist keyboard warriors in his fan base engage in domestic politics. If you think “fighting for America” means grandstanding at a microphone about “fake news,” you’re the target audience for this one. DeSantis is aiming to show Trump voters here that he has at least as much, uh, “combat experience” as their hero does.
As for me, I’m relieved that he’s still thinking of challenging Trump. I get worried sometimes when I hear him pandering in Trump’s defense, as it makes me worry that he won’t have the stones to face him down when the time comes…
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) baselessly attacks the FBI as the “enforcement arm of one particular faction of our country” after the lawful search of Mar-a-Lago:
“I haven’t read the motion in terms of what was going on, but clearly federal agencies … have been weaponized.” pic.twitter.com/jsP1Ot2MZF
— The Recount (@therecount) August 23, 2022
…but then I remember that he has no choice but to take this line. You can’t win any Republican voters from Trump by taking the FBI’s side in the Mar-a-Lago saga but you can certainly lose some who were already in your camp. In fact, by harrumphing about the Biden “regime,” DeSantis has taken a rhetorical step lately that even Trump has avoided (as far as I’m aware). Historian Joshua Tait noticed:
“Regime” rhetoric doesn’t just undermine trust in democratic opponents. It undercuts faith in public information and the rule of law—both critical foundations of modern democracy.
Media bias no doubt exists. But “the Regime” treats the Fourth Estate—and academia—as apparatchiks of the state allegedly fabricating stories to tarnish the right. When this becomes common practice on the right, as if journalistic commitment to facts or genuine expertise don’t exist, we reach a point where the only sources of information that segments of the right-wing base will trust are conservative media and conspiratorial influencers…
To call the Biden administration “the Regime,” or a major component of “the Regime,” is an implicit call to overthrow it. Too many right-wing elites act as if they are spoiling for an actual fight. America isn’t a banana republic, per the Federalist and Ron DeSantis. But a right wing that throws off norms, won’t acknowledge its political foes as legitimate, undermines the rule of law, and spoils for a fight? That’s banana republic territory.
My guess is that DeSantis’s “regime” talk is part of his atonement to MAGA fans for ducking the topic of whether he believes the 2020 election was rigged. He’ll delegitimize Biden by grousing about the regime, and he’ll support election deniers like Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake by campaigning for them. But he’s uneasy about endorsing conspiracy theories about the election, fearing that doing so will damage his electability edge over Trump with centrists.
It’s worked so far but it won’t work forever. He can blow off the media when they ask him about it but he’s not going to be able to blow off Trump when he asks him about it on a debate stage.
Here’s DeSantis talking about the new ad this morning on Fox. Apparently the new “Top Gun” movie has been a recurring theme for him this summer.