Normally, when a hurricane hits a state hard and the president comes to survey the damage, the governor meets him at the airport and gives a tour of hardest-hit parts of the state, while holding his hand out for federal money. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) definitely wants the money, but refused to meet Joe Biden when the president showed up Saturday. DeSantis gave some lame excuse about the president's security detail interfering with the clean-up. That is total BS. The hurricane hit the least populated part of the state and the U.S.S.S. knows very well how to manage presidential visits without interfering with first responders. DeSantis is just acting like a petulant toddler and doesn't want to be seen giving Biden any credit for caring about Floridians. In all fairness, the Governor doesn't give a rat's a** about the money (or the Floridians who were wiped out). All he cares about is getting the credit for getting the money. This is presidential politics at its absolute worst and it shows DeSantis for who he really is.
It is also possible that DeSantis' campaign manager warned the candidate about appearing with Biden. His nightmare scenario is that they go visit an elderly widow who lived alone in a house that was totally destroyed by the hurricane. Biden instinctively hugs her to console her. DeSantis stares at his watch with a how-long-do-I-have-to-put-up-with-this-sh** look and barely suppresses saying, "OK, OK, we came here. The AP photographer got the shot. Now I need to get back to Iowa to warn the people how evil wokeness is." That would then be the news story of the day.
Well, guess what? It was anyway.
We're not the only ones who think so. Former representative Adam Kinzinger yesterday said: "There's a 1 percent to 2 percent chance it's logistics. There's a 98 percent to 99 percent chance it's the optics. Ron DeSantis, at the cost of the benefit to Florida, has decided his political campaign cannot have him meet with Joe Biden, the President of the United States, who ultimately will be signing the checks that Florida is going to be begging for." That said, we do disagree with Kinzinger on an important point. We believe that it's not 98-99% optics. It is 100.00% optics. The hurricane has left Florida. There is no danger for the president to visit it. The U.S.S.S. has safely protected presidents in far worse disaster situations. DeSantis simply doesn't want to be seen with Biden because the contrast between the empathetic president who is sad this event ruined so many lives and the aloof and annoyed governor who wants to get back to Iowa to campaign would shine through.
But maybe DeSantis still made the wrong call. Yes, the contrast with the always-empathetic Biden and the never-empathetic DeSantis wouldn't have looked great, but what DeSantis did is make the story be about him shunning Biden. Look at these headlines:
How do you say "tin ear" with a Florida accent? What DeSantis accomplished is turning a routine story about a presidential visit to a disaster area into a story about "The Snub." Even as far away as Japan and Australia, that's the story. Black women are already the Democrats' strongest subgroup, but after seeing this photo, are there going to be any Black women in the country who would vote for DeSantis over Biden?
The only Florida Republican who came out of this disaster (by which we mean "The Snub," not the hurricane) looking good is Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). Even though he is obnoxious and heartily disliked in the Senate, he did exactly what he should have. He met with Biden, explained how bad the situation was for all those people in Florida, and asked politely for federal help. If Biden is smart, he will deliver the aid and then give Scott, not DeSantis, the credit for making him aware how much it was needed. Here is the photo of Biden with Scott where DeSantis should have been standing:
And whaddya know? Biden IS smart. He commended Scott and said that he was pleased that Scott was present, even though they do not agree on very much at all. If in a month or a year, all Floridians remember is that Scott got them federal help, DeSantis will be furious, but whose fault will that be? Paging Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Are you off in Cancun, or what? (V)