Dem 51
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GOP 49
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A Mexican Standoff in Florida?

Note that the phrase "Mexican Standoff" almost certainly refers to "a standoff that took place in Mexico," and not "a standoff that embodies some characteristic of the Mexican people." It dates back to the Mexican-American War, and a now-obscured-by-the-mists-of-time incident during that conflict. And we couldn't help but think of this particular concept—and, more specifically, the climactic scene of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly—when reading about the latest sniping by 2024 Republican presidential candidates.

To start, there is no gutter that is too low for Donald Trump to climb into. And one of the standard tricks in the MAGA Republican playbook is to suggest that one's opponents are pedophiles. So, it is not the slighest bit surprising that the former president took to his boutique social media platform yesterday to suggest that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) was (or is) in the habit of grooming high-school girls. Sharing some pictures of the Governor from roughly 20 years ago, Trump wrote: "Ron DeSantis was having a 'drink' party with his students when he was a high school teacher. Having drinks with underage girls and cuddling with them certainly look pretty gross and ephebophiliaesque." Where that last word came from, we do not know. Does Trump himself have that word memorized, perhaps due to his own past transgressions? Did someone feed it to him? Does Team Trump really think that the base knows what that means? Very unusual.

DeSantis, for his part, also spewed some vinegar yesterday, launching some vague, but entirely unspecific, attacks on "the media." The Governor is apparently angry that his education "reforms" have gotten negative coverage, and decreed:

When the media attacks me, I have a platform to fight back. When they attack everyday citizens, these individuals don't have the adequate recourses to fight back. It would contribute to an increase in ethics in the media and everything if they knew that if you smeared somebody, it's false and you didn't do your homework then you have to be held accountable for that.

DeSantis did not specify what he wants done, he merely said that the media are bad and should be held "accountable."

Meanwhile, the media generally are critical of Trump on a daily basis, and so there you have your Mexican standoff: Trump → DeSantis → Media → Trump, and so on and so forth. We do not point this out to be pithy, however. We point it out because we wonder if that is DeSantis' strategy for dealing with his soon-to-be-rival. That is to say, every time Trump attacks the Governor, perhaps the Governor will respond by attacking someone/something else. That gets him some competing headlines, and shows he's "strong" and "has the right enemies" without making a direct attack on Trump himself.

What suggested this possibility to us was the fact that DeSantis had relatively little to say about the media when he launched his attack. Normally, specific policy goals are incorporated into his kvetching, but not here. It seemed very much like he had to come up with someone or something to attack pronto, and so he winged it. It's entirely possible we are wrong, but it's worth watching to see if we're right. Of course, both Trump and DeSantis complain so often about so many things, it might be hard to prove for certain. (Z)

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