Trump’s Broadside Against DeSantis: ‘What Was He Thinking?’
And how important is timing, not just of Trump's attack, but on DeSantis' decision whether to run in the first place.
By now the pattern is familiar. Out of the blue Donald Trump will say something that has you smacking your forehead screaming “What was he thinking?!?!?” The funny thing is, more often than not he proves to be right in the end.
For example, Barack Obama was, indeed, spying on his campaign. For which, he and his cohorts have never been punished. And establishment Republicans — the Paul Ryans and the Mitch McConnells — do not seem all that bothered. In fact, they and other Never Trumpers don’t mind the slightest that the DOJ and FBI and Democratic machine not only interfered with the 2016 election, but actively worked in tandem to manipulate the 2020 election on behalf of Joe Biden. They snicker as the Biden regime raided Mar-a-Lago — Donald Trump’s home — on pretenses more flimsy than a Victoria Secret catalogue.
Which gets to Donald Trump’s Thursday night broadside against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. You read that and you smacked both hands against your head. “What was he thinking?!?!?” Why in the world is he ripping DeSantis two days after DeSantis gave his party its most shining moment Tuesday night? Why in the world is he playing straight into the worst perceptions about him?
Curiously, Trump re-truthed a post on Truth Social that reads “Truth masterfully started this fake fight with DeSantis to reveal the Deep State RINO scum and their puppets. Brilliant Move! Now we really get to see who is for the people and who is for the DC Swamp.” Is it really just for show? A 3D chess move that has little to do with DeSantis? Is it a “fake fight” with DeSantis perhaps even in on it?
Seems a stretch, but we’ll have to see.
Clearly Trump’s miffed that the Wall Street Journal and Murdock Machine are using Tuesday’s results as an excuse to shove Trump aside for DeSantis. But I believe what really gets Trump’s goat is that DeSantis seems to be playing along. Seems to be accepting the overtures from the likes of Ryan and McConnell. Seeming thus to accept the whole corrupt business. And sorry to say it, this would be a betrayal of Trump and of the populist movement. And would be a huge, huge red flag on DeSantis.
I saw it somewhere. The battle isn’t between Trump and DeSantis. It’s between us and the corrupt establishment elite. The question is which side is DeSantis on.
The answer remains to be seen. As Conservative Treehouse noted DeSantis doesn’t mind pocketing millions from a billionaire who very openly wants to drag the GOP away from the populist movement and back into the corporate fold with less interest in cultural issues. But is now the time for Trump to be making that case against DeSantis? I do not think so, for several reasons.
Getting Walker Over the Goal Line
All eyes and fire have to be directed towards Georgia, towards helping his guy Herschel Walker beat Raphael Warnock in the run-off. Go ahead, make DeSantis out to be all RINO no hat on December 7. But until then, you want to love on him like a brother. Two massive offensive linemen delivering crushing blocks for the next month so Walker can easily cruise across the goal line.
Yes, the same Herschel Walker that on Tuesday you were ripped for endorsing. “Trump pushed weak candidates and that’s why we didn’t take the Senate! He’s the big loser! He’s poison. He’s done!” Walker wins and you shut-up that MSM and Republican establishment talking point. And if Blake Masters pulls it out in Arizona in the meantime, forget about it, you end up the big winner. Your political obituary is pulled. And DeSantis’ stellar day is old news.
You Don’t Have to Sweat DeSantis Anyway
DeSantis isn’t an “average” governor with good PR. He’s done a wonderful job in Florida and is a great lesson for other Republican governors on how to get it done. Acknowledge it, even celebrate it, shout “my governor’s great!” because when it comes to 2024, so what? In 2016, you squared off against Jeb Bush, another Florida governor who did a great job and was anointed by the GOP establishment. Made quick work of him. For that matter, you also squared off against Rick Perry, who had gotten the same accolades in Texas as DeSantis is getting now. And Gov. Chris Christie. And Gov. Mike Huckabee. And Gov. George Pataki. And, for that matter, debate champ and rising conservative favorite Sen. Ted Cruz. All heavy hitters. You beat them all easily. And that was before you spent four years racking up a string of White House accomplishments that stack up against any president in history.
With your record and your MAGA Army, does DeSantis really have a shot? Especially if others get in the race? The primary will be between Trump and Not-Trump. The Not-Trump splits, and the path to the nomination is cakewalk. And we know how much you like cake.
You Don’t Even Know if DeSantis Will Pull the Trigger on a Run
Running for president is a brutal, all-consuming thing. You have to be convinced you are the guy and this is your time. I was at an event in ’86 where Mario Cuomo, the beloved NY governor and supposed shoo-in, was asked why he didn’t run in ’84 and wasn’t planning to run in ’88. He said, “I just didn’t have the fire in my belly.” He said when he ran for governor he knew he was the best man for the job. The only one for the job. He had to do it. When it came to the presidency, he just didn’t feel that way.
For that matter, people forget that Donald Trump was hounded for years to run for president … oddly enough by Democrats. Trump said he wasn’t that interested, but “Maybe someday, if I feel that I have no choice.”
Ron DeSantis has a lot of people telling him right now that he’s The Man. He’s got to run. Seems clear enough that he has an ambition to be president some day. But is 2024 the time? Does he have no choice?
I wonder: Does Ron DeSantis in his heart really want to pull himself away from his beautiful wife and little children so soon after the family’s battle with cancer to spend the next two years on the road doing what it takes to conduct a presidential campaign? Does he really want to leave them and the warmth of Florida to pound the frigid pavements of Iowa and New Hampshire, in a brutal, bloody dog-fight with Trump for months on end? Does he want to fight his way through the ire of hard-core Trump supporters upset that he’s challenging Trump with the help of those who’ve spent seven years trying to destroy him and push them aside? Does he want to expose his kids at such a tender age to the searing crucible of the White House should he win? All when he doesn’t have to?
Or would he rather take a breath after the cancer scare, continue building up Florida and building up like-minded candidates, work on the foreign policy part of his game, give the kids four more years to grow before hitting the road, earn the loyalty of the MAGA Army in the role of heir apparent, and be handed the 2028 nomination on a platter? Or at the very least have an easier go of it.
I could be wrong, but I suspect in the end DeSantis’ heart and brain will both say “Leave 2024 alone. This is not the time.”
My Message to Trump
So this is my message to Donald Trump: Give Ron DeSantis the space to come to the same realization you did when you were his age. That this is not the time. Don’t crowd him to the point you stir his competitive juices. Stir instead in him the idea that you’ll need him, you’ll need the best of the best, to help fix the astonishing array of messes this administration is leaving both foreign and domestic.
Yeah, DeSantis will have a choice to make. The populist movement or the establishment machine. To stay home or jump out into the arena. Which he choses will be clear enough soon enough.
Then it’ll be open season … or open arms. Right?
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 GETTR, Gab, Parler, and now at TRUTH Social.