The Brew: Did DeSantis Really Dub Trump Supporters ‘Listless Vessels’ Days Before Opening GOP Debate?

What's more troubling? The quote or the campaign spin?

By Al Perrotta Published on August 21, 2023

Happy Monday!

Today’s Brew comes in an elephant shaped mug, for the 1st GOP debate is just two days away.

But first …

Biden Heads to Ravaged Maui

Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will be seeing the wildfire devastation in Maui first hand today. The president will be meeting with survivors, Hawaii’s governor and local officials. As FEMA director Deanne Criswell acknowledged Saturday, Biden might also hear some of the frustrations locals are expressing with FEMA and the state’s disaster response. 

As we continue praying for the families of those lost — officially now over 114 with the death toll likely to rise dramatically — we grieve what now appears to be grave human error in dealing with the unfolding blaze.

The head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, Herman Andaya resigned Thursday, one day after defending not activating emergency sirens in Lahaina. He said he thought sounding the sirens would sent residents fleeing into the fire. NBC News reports, Andaya had a history of downplaying the use of sirens, considering them a “last resort.” 

Perhaps even more disturbing, the now-former deputy director of the Hawaiian Commission on Water Resource Management, M. Kaleo Manuel reportedly delayed water resources to fight the blaze for five crucial hours. The West Maui Land Company says Manuel’s commission refused its request to divert streams to fill landowners reservoirs in Lahaina to provide water for firefighters until after the fire had spun out of control. Five full hours.  

In a letter, the West Maui Land Company said Manuel’s division delayed approval because it wanted to know whether a downstream user’s taro patch would be affected by the reduction of water supply. It’s an equity thing. Even a spiritual thing. Manuel believes water is to be revered, not used.

Still, you don’t want to blame Manuel personally. He didn’t have the authority to unilaterally release water. Lahaina is just a tragic pawn in a long running battle over water in Maui. Hawaiian Governor Josh Green touched on it Tuesday:

One thing that people need to understand especially from far away is there has been a great deal of water conflict for many years. It’s important that we are honest about this. People have been fighting against the release of water to fight fires. I’ll leave that to you to explore.

Green is vowing that historic Lahaina will be rebuilt, and promises rebuilding efforts will focus first on local residents, rather than major developers. Locals have been concerned the disaster will mean a land grab by speculators and investors hoping to score the priceless Hawaiian real estate.

The Stream‘s Jason Jones and his Vulnerable People Project are in Hawaii right now, organizing relief efforts. Jones addressed the devastation last week on The Eric Metaxas Show:

Debate Scene Setter

In just two days, the qualified GOP candidates will meet in Milwaukee for the first debate of the 2024 election season. Don’t go looking for Democratic debates. The DNC is refusing to hold any. And right now, don’t go looking for front-runner Donald Trump on the debate stage. Sources tell the New York Times he has decided to skip the debate in favor of an interview with Tucker Carlson instead. But Trump being Trump, do we really know what he’s going to do?

We’ve even seen it suggested by a former Trump aide he might decide to turn himself in Wednesday night in Atlanta to completely wipe the GOP debate off the media map.

A new CBS News poll out Sunday, offers some good reason why Trump might was well kick his feet up Wednesday night. His lead over the field has expanded, new indictment and all. He’s up 46% on his nearest rival.

You might hear that the polls are skewing towards Trump because that’s what the media wants. We’ve also heard on background a theory that Trump’s numbers may be inflated because GOP voters don’t want to say they prefer another candidate, fearing the wrath of the MAGA army. Clearly we won’t know the truth until the actual primaries and caucuses. Just as clearly, the others trying to knock Trump off have their work cut out for them.

For that matter, they’ve got a lot of work to do to become the “Not Trump” choice. Which gets to Wednesday night’s debate.

So Who’s Going to Be Debating?

So who’s qualified? As of Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott, former Gov. Nikki Haley, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday he’s made the cut. Mike Pence and Chris Christie could end up on the stage as well. We’ll know for sure later today.

To qualify, candidates must draw donations from 40,000 individuals and reach 1% support in several established polls. Their donors must include 200 individuals from 20 different states. Additionally, they must sign a loyalty pledge agreeing to support whoever the party eventually nominates.

This last one is really kind of silly. What defines support? “Here’s a check for one dollar, with the name to be filled in later.”

Did DeSantis Have a “Deplorable” Moment? Florida Gov. Appears to Take Shot at Trump Supporters as “Listless Vessels”

Oh, Ron, Ron, Ron. What were you thinking? On Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis “launched a broadside,” to quote the Guardian, against Trump supporters, suggesting they were “listless vessels.”

Here’s his full quote to The Florida Standard:

The movement has got to be about what are you trying to achieve on behalf of the American people and that’s got to be based in principle, because if you’re not rooted in principle, if all we are is listless vessels that’s just supposed to follow … whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable movement.

Now, you can argue that DeSantis wasn’t really targeting Trump voters. He’s talking principles over a person. And his campaign is, comically, cynically insisting he was talking about Trump loyalists in Congress. But to specifically mention Trump’s “Truth Social”? For Trump voters who have been insulted and maligned non-stop for seven years, they’re going to hear “deplorable.” Too stupid to think for themselves.

A “Rich Man North of Richmond Even If He Lives in Florida” mindset.

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If that wasn’t bad enough, the comment drew withering return fire from Vivek Ramaswamy, whose rise in the polls is challenging DeSantis’ #2 spot.

With Trump likely passing on the debate, the heat will be on DeSantis. And he just handed Vivek and the others a blowtorch.

And Governor? A bit of free advice. If you stick to your campaign line that you were talking about members of Congress, you might as well go home to your lovely wife. That’s a weasel politician move. Cop to messing up, to getting cute, a moment of uncharacteristic sloppiness. Show a full understanding why your “listless vessels” line would not sit well. You will be forgiven. 

I’ve got another bit of free advice. Fire any campaign advisor you have not had children with. The GOP pros and PACS are not serving you well.

Stream Poll Results: Trump Shouldn’t Skip the Debate

On Friday, we asked the question: Is it a good plan for Trump to skip the GOP debate? Roughly 54% say “No.” 46% say “Yes.”

Tomorrow, if events permit, we’ll offer reasons Trump should debate … and reasons he shouldn’t. 

Along The Stream

The Stream‘s John Zmirak challenges with “From Liberation Theology to Churchianity Today, It’s Still ‘Go Woke, Go Broke.'”

Mark Judge is also back with “Assume That Journalists are Cannibal Zombies, Coated in Plutonium.”


Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream, chief barista for The Brew and co-author, with John Zmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl at GETTRGabParler, and now at TRUTH Social.

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