Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Out of the Frying Panhandle...

Is there anyone who believes Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) isn't going to run for president in 2024? It may be time for him to stop pretending that he is still deciding, and to make it official. And it's possible that is exactly what he is thinking, too. The Governor just sat for an interview with Piers Morgan, of the sort that, you know, wannabe presidents often sit for.

In the interview, Morgan asked DeSantis about his plans for 2024, and the Governor said:

I'm running against Biden. Like [Trump and I] are competing for the Republican, potentially, I get that, but ultimately you know the guy I'm gonna focus on is Biden because I think he's failed the country. I think the country wants a change. I think they want a fresh start and a new direction, and so we'll be very vocal about that.

Sounds like someone who is running to us. For added measure, he also took a few potshots at Donald Trump, and the former president's "chaotic" leadership style. This confrontation could not be put off forever, and given the drama and the squabbling surrounding a potential Trump extradition, the day may finally have arrived.

If this race is about to get real, and the Governor is about to leave the panhandle and jump into the fire, then we'll begin to see how well he handles being under the world's largest microscope. Thus far, the results are not promising. To take one example that's already become a bit of a meme, on Monday, DeSantis tweeted this: "The Cuban government tried to use the World Baseball Championship for propaganda. They still lost 14-2 to the USA. Freedom wins again."

It's remarkable that someone could squeeze so much buffoonery into 134 characters, but somehow DeSantis did it. What is buffoonish about this tweet? Let us count the ways:

  1. Using a sporting contest as a proxy for national character is silly chauvinism.

  2. DeSantis apparently did not notice the hypocrisy of accusing Cuba of using the game for propaganda purposes, and then promptly turning around and using it for propaganda purposes himself.

  3. Cuba has 11 million people. The United States has 330 million. Of course the U.S. is going to win more often than not. In other news, the Little League World Series, for some reason, is rarely won by teams from the Kingdom of Tuvalu or from the Principality of Monaco.

  4. Even allowing for built-in competitive advantages, baseball is a wonky sport. You can't draw meaningful conclusions based on the result of a single game. The worst team in baseball last year, the Nationals, still managed to win 34% of its games.

  5. The tournament is not the World Baseball Championship. It's the World Baseball Classic. Calling it the World Baseball Championship is like saying that Tiger Woods won the English Open three times, or that Michelle Yeoh won the Oscar for Best Acting by a Woman, or that it would be great to win a Piece of Nobel Prize.

The point here is not to mock DeSantis. That's just a bonus. No, the point is to illustrate that he consistently fails the "beer test." You can't fake being a sports fan anymore than you can fake being a pianist. Either you are or you aren't. Sports fandom has a rather vast vocabulary and conceptual basis that makes it easy to identify the fakers. Barack Obama really knows college basketball. George W. Bush really knows baseball. On the other hand, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) doesn't know anything about basketball, and in particular "basketball rings," as he calls them (he was referring to basketball hoops). When you are a politician and you step in it by using embarrassingly wrong terminology, it just underscores that you're not a regular guy or regular gal. And note that there's not a problem with not being a sports fan, per se. The problem is pretending you are when you're not.

Now, one thing DeSantis can do is read polls. And we suspect that this particular skill helps explain why he is suddenly engaging with Trump, and is suddenly pretending to be Joe Sixpack. The other Nate (Cohn, of The New York Times) had a piece last week in which he looked at the presidential polls. They are all over the place, of course, so it's hard to impose order on them. But my comparing sequential polls from the same pollsters, the clear conclusion is that DeSantis is losing ground to Trump. The two men were in a dead heat at the start of this year, but now Trump has opened up something like a 10-point lead over DeSantis in head-to-head matchups.

Cohn thinks the explanation here is pretty simple: (1) DeSantis' post-election bump has evaporated, (2) Trump has gone on the attack, and (3) DeSantis has stayed on the sidelines. This seems like a pretty good assessment to us. Of course, there is nothing the Governor can do about #1 and #2, but #3 is under his control. And whaddya know, all of a sudden he is sitting for interviews with Piers Morgan and is saying snarky things about Trump. Again, it looks like things are about to get real. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates