Sunday, March 26, 2023


Does Ron DeSantis really want to be the Republican presidential nominee? If so, this is how it's done:
Former President Donald J. Trump spent much of his first major political rally of the 2024 campaign portraying his expected indictment by a New York grand jury as a result of what he claimed was a Democratic conspiracy to persecute him, arguing wildly that the United States was turning into a “banana republic.”

As a crowd in Waco, Texas, waved red-and-white signs with the words “Witch Hunt” behind him, Mr. Trump devoted long stretches of his speech to his own legal jeopardy rather than his vision for a second term, casting himself as a victim of “weaponization” of the justice system.

... The speech underscored how Mr. Trump tends to frame the nation’s broader political stakes heavily around whatever issues personally affect him the most.
DeSantis needs to stop assuming that "putting points on the board," as he likes to put it, will be enough to get him the nomination. He can get his entire anti-trans, anti-CRT, anti-DEI, anti-abortion, and pro-gun legislation agenda passed and it will put him in a strong position, but he needs something extra. He needs to start whining.

Republican voters love self-pity. They'd love to hear DeSantis complain about how many people hate him and want to destroy him. This works for Trump, for Lauren Boebert, for Marjorie Taylor Greene. It works for the pro-gun movement, which never stops talking about how besieged gun owners are, and for the Christian right, which never stops talking about a war on Christianity.

It's probably a mistake for DeSantis to keep saying that Florida is "where woke goes to die." That suggests that he's already won the battle. Republican voters would rather hear that he's perpetually under attack from the forces of wokeness. That's how they feel in their own lives. As the right-wing media tells them every hour of every day, they have many damgerous enemies who are always on the verge of total victory. DeSantis probably needs to make them believe that he feels their pain because he's a victim, too.

In 1991, George H.W. Bush appears to have defeated Saddam Hussein decisively. In 2003 and 2004, George W. Bush seemed to be in a sustained fight against Saddam. The Bush who won reelection wasn't the one who'd declared victory and brought the troops home -- it was the one who said he needed to keep fighting the evildoers, people whose threat to America had been relentlessly exaggerated.

That's a lesson for DeSantis. In last night's speech, Trump said he's fighting powerful enemies:
He ... argued that the greatest threat to the United States was not China or Russia but top American politicians, among them President Biden, Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Mr. Trump said were “poisoning” the nation.
DeSantis needs to talk as if the enemy is at the gates, and he's their #1 target. That works for Trump.

And no, I don't mean he should attack Trump directly. Most GOP voters like Trump and DeSantis. As Mediaite notes, Trump's direct attacks on DeSantis fell flat last night. But he should whine about every other evildoer (i.e., us), otherwise he's going to lose the nomination fight badly.

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