Monday, November 14, 2022


National Review's Jim Geraghty has taken to the pages of The Washington Post to tell Democrats and independents that we should be happy if Ron DeSantis wins the 2024 Republican presidential nomination:
If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis runs for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination ... plenty of Americans across the partisan divide would have good reason to root for him to win the nomination....

You might vehemently disagree with much of what he says and does. You might even hate the guy.

But DeSantis would be a Republican nominee without Donald Trump’s worst and most destructive impulses and habits. The governor certainly doesn’t shy from a scrap, but he fights for policies, not to prosecute vendettas. Having a normal-range Republican leader on the national stage would be a beneficial reset for the entire country....

If DeSantis the nominee became president, Democrats and Republicans would no doubt disagree just as strongly as before. But there would be one big difference: They’d spend more time arguing about policy and what the federal government ought to do, and less about whatever crazy thing Trump said or did that day.

Independents and centrists might find themselves disappointed or irked with a President DeSantis. But they’d be irked within normal parameters, not fearing that he’d burn the country down in a fit of rage because he thinks someone wasn’t being fair to him....

DeSantis, for all his pugnaciousness, colors inside the lines, operating within the traditionally defined powers of his office and the constitutional framework of government....

Every now and then, DeSantis takes the not-so-conservative path when it’s popular with his constituents. This doesn’t mean liberals will embrace him; it’s just an observation that a DeSantis presidency wouldn’t mean enduring four years of an inflexible, hardcore conservative. There would be occasional areas of agreement....

Yes, he’s conservative and can be combative. But he takes his job seriously, he picks his battles and he focuses on results. In other words, he’s not crazy — in fact, he’s relatively normal.
Do you remember the 2000 presidential campaign? Republicans had lost two elections in a row and didn't want to lose a third. They knew what liberals and moderates disliked about their party: It was full of sanctimonious religious fanatics and it was heartless toward society's have-nots.

So the party settled on a candidate, George W. Bush, and sold him with a message aimed at non-Republicans: He's a member of the religious right, but he's a nice one. He believes in something called "compassionate conservatism." And he works across the aisle as governor of Texas! We swear he'll do that as president, too!

They knew he'd do nothing to displease Jerry Falwell and Ralph Reed. They knew he wanted to cut rich people's taxes and signifcantly reduce regulations. They knew he was a mainstream Republican on foreign policy, which meant that hawks and neoconservatives would have no complaints if he won. But that's not how they sold him. They sold him (to us) as a guy who was ideologically indistinguishable from his Democratic opponent.

It worked. He won.

Even though Geraghty touts increases in teacher salaries and spending on the environment in DeSantis's first term, he knows he can't sell the governor as a moderate. So here's the pitch: You want normal? DeSantis is normal. You want constitutional? DeSantis won't try to do things that aren't constititutional.

Of course, DeSantis is the guy who, before he was sworn in for his first term, asked for an exhaustive list of gubernatorial powers, so he'd know everything he was empowered to do unilaterally. As president, he'd have a Republican Supreme Court that would no doubt revert to the "unitary executive" theory, saying, in effect, You have the right to do nearly anything you want to do unilaterally. And while DeSantis doesn't spend his days pursuing personal vendettas the way Trump does, he spends them pursuing vendettas that enhance his standing with angry right-wingers and Fox News. How is that better?

But they want us to think he's a Republican without the bad stuff. Some people might buy it.

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