Best-case scenario shaping up: DeSantis vs. the field
· · May 25, 2023 ·

With the official entry of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis into the Republican presidential primary, I'm anxious to see one thing. Will the contest coalesce in such a way that it's DeSantis versus the field, or will it mimic the 2016 campaign and become Trump versus the field. The outcome of the primary may very well hinge on that question.

To this point, with DeSantis merely dancing around the periphery of the race, it has certainly appeared to be the former. The well-publicized feud between Florida's governor and rabid, culture-warring leaders at the multi-billion-dollar Disney corporation has propelled DeSantis into the good graces of the party's conservative base. The notoriety he's received has generated envious jabs from all current and likely primary participants. Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Vivek Ramaswamy, and even Mike Pence have all joined Democrats, the New York Times, and Donald Trump (shouldn't that triple alliance be telling legitimate conservatives something?) in attacking DeSantis.

I suppose to some, heading your press release with the statement "President Trump is Always Right" makes it true. To the rest of us who live not by lies, it's anything but. In fact, pointing to that Times' misinformation to suggest that DeSantis has been bested, no less "absolutely destroyed" by Disney in this battle is startlingly ignorant.

First, the obvious fact that Disney is in a deep financial mess is foundational to understanding all of this. The company's business plan has proven to be a trainwreck – for instance, going all-in on a streaming service that is hemorrhaging money has proven to be a disaster. Disney has lost over $123 billion dollars (with a "b") in just one year. Its stock has depreciated 44% in one year. Things were so bad that the board had to fire CEO Bob Chapek and overpay former CEO Bob Iger to return.

Like anyone who observed his first tenure would have predicted, Iger isn't exactly leading a company resurrection. Things are not turning around, Iger has been forced to ax 7,000 workers, and has tried to scale back previous ambitious projects Chapek had envisioned.

One of those projects included moving Walt Disney Imagineering from Burbank to Lake Nona, Florida. It was an expensive undertaking that, long before DeSantis angered Disney by signing a bill to shield children from overtly sexual material in elementary school, had already been delayed until at least 2026.

But don't take my word for it. You know who else said DeSantis had nothing to do with Disney's decision to cut the Lake Nona project? Disney.

And while the "2,000 jobs lost" trope may seem an appealing one to those wanting to take down DeSantis, those weren't new jobs. They were transplants from California, meaning a net gain of zero. But if more jobs coming to Florida is the way we're going to gauge who is winning the DeSantis vs. Disney dispute, by all means take a gander at this shockingly overlooked announcement from the House of Mouse:

Am I surprised and disappointed that respectable Republican voices like Nikki Haley and Mike Pence, as well as promising newcomers like Vivek Ramaswamy would follow Donald Trump down his well-worn path of half-truths and self-serving twisted reality? Yes. But maybe this is the best-case scenario.

In 2016, a crowded field of quality candidates split the conservative base as Trump stood alone representing a growing contingent of populist Republicans. In the end, the fractured conservatives lost a war of attrition and the MAGA ascendency became reality. Perhaps this time, Trump and the Republicans too afraid to take him on will fracture the populists so that the conservatives can coalesce behind DeSantis.

Time will tell.


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