Friday, March 24, 2023


I know what Jamelle Bouie is trying to say in his latest column -- headlined "Don’t Be Fooled. Ron DeSantis Is a Bush-Cheney Republican" -- but I think his categories are wrong.
As a lawyer at Guantánamo Bay, according to a report by Michael Kranish in The Washington Post, DeSantis endorsed the force-feeding of detainees.

“Detainees were strapped into a chair, and a lubricated tube was stuffed down their nose so a nurse could pour down two cans of a protein drink,” Kranish wrote. “The detainees’ lawyers tried and failed to stop the painful practice, arguing that it violated international torture conventions.”

The reason to highlight these details of DeSantis’s service at Guantánamo is that it helps place the Florida governor in his proper political context. The standard view of DeSantis is that he comes out of Donald Trump’s populist Republican Party, a view the governor has been keen to cultivate as he vies for leadership within the party....

But what if we centered DeSantis in Guantánamo, Iraq and the war on terrorism rather than the fever house of the MAGA Republican Party, a place that may not be a natural fit for the Yale- and Harvard-educated lawyer? What if we treated DeSantis not as a creature of the Trump years but as a product of the Bush ones?
I don't understand why Bouie is dividing Republicans into these two neat categories. They're not distinct, even if Donald Trump regularly expresses contempt for the Iraq War, and for the Republicans who demanded that we fight it.

DeSantis went to Gitmo in 2006. At that time, if you were a Fox News Republican -- is that redundant? -- you liked Bushism. You liked the idea that American troops would travel halfway around the world and bring democracy to the Middle East at gunpoint. Being in favor of the Iraq War was also a way of giving the finger to the libs.

Thanks to Trump, if you're a Fox News Republican now, you have contempt not only for Bush Republicans but (at least to some extent) for pro-Ukraine Republicans, whom you regard as "globalists." But your goal is the same: to infuriate liberals.

DeSantis was a liberal-defying Fox News Republican in 2006 and he's a liberal-defying Fox News Republican now. He hasn't changed. The rules of lib-owning have changed.

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