Even under a severe heat dome,* this warms the cockles of my stone-cold heart: (Rolling Stone)
Murdochs Start to Sour on DeSantis: ‘They Can Smell a Loser’
The conservative media kingmakers’ preferred candidate to knock off Donald Trump is not meeting expectations, and the family’s patriarch is getting tired of waiting
Since the beginning of the Biden presidency, the powerful Murdoch family has favored the Florida governor in the 2024 presidential primary, largely due to a conviction that DeSantis would be a more electable, and less chaotic, evolution from Donald Trump.
But in recent weeks, the Murdochs have grown increasingly displeased with the DeSantis campaign’s perceived stumbles, lackluster polling, and inability to swiftly dethrone Trump, multiple sources tell Rolling Stone. They have also seriously questioned whether the governor is capable of defeating Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary.
Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch in particular has been voicing his doubts and frustrations, in private discussions and calls, at times wondering if a DeSantis “comeback” is possible at this point. Murdoch is the longtime patriarch of the family that controls Fox News, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and other media properties that are highly influential among conservatives.
“(Rupert’s) understandable worry is that we may end up being stuck with Trump anyway,” a senior Fox source tells Rolling Stone. “And DeSantis is underperforming. Anybody can see that…(and the Murdochs), they’re seeing it, too.”
Murdoch isn’t the only right-wing oligarch who’s lost faith in Florida’s mean, corrupt and socially awkward governor, and if it’s just now dawning on him that Repubs might get stuck with Trump again for 2024, maybe Rotten Rupert isn’t as bright as generally supposed.
The New York Times published an article about the Murdochs’ DeSantis problem too. And writing for the Financial Times, Edward Luce also dissects the campaign’s early stumbles, including that bizarre ad.
Luce says the problem is deeper than ineptitude; he claims the governor made a fatal miscalculation about the nature of Repubs in the Trump era, i.e., that the base wants a Trump without the drama when in fact they love the drama.
Luce doesn’t spell this next part out, but I think it’s possible DeSantis mistook GOP oligarch sentiment for rank-and-file GOP voter sentiment. Rich donors didn’t particularly care for all the Trump drama because it’s a risk to an investment they made to achieve favorable tax treatment and deregulation. For the rank-and-file, the transgressive behavior is the entire point.
As others have observed before him, Luce says the GOP base is caught up in a cult of personality, so it’s not a normal political party anymore. He argues that a cult can’t be “disbanded via focus group or contrived positioning.” According to Luce, the only way for a not-Trump to win is to slay the dragon instead of tip-toeing around it — another observation that has been made elsewhere.
Luce is not convinced the dragon-slaying option remains open at this point — whether by the hand of DeSantis or anyone else. Self-immolation by the dragon may be the only way Repubs dodge Trump 2024.
All that said, Doug Heye, a former RNC comms guy quoted in the Rolling Stone article, points out that it’s too early to write Rancid DeMeatball’s political obituary:
“There are a lot of people who are trying to write the obituary of a well-funded and popular figure in the party before the debates have even started. Ron was the designated dragon-slayer — and because he hasn’t slayed the dragon before the debates have begun, he’s being portrayed as a failure. And I think it’s too early for that.”
As much as I enjoy doing the cha-cha-cha on the DeSantis campaign’s comatose carcass, Heye is right. Like a buoyant turd that refuses to be flushed, Ron DeSantis might fight his way back up the RNC sewer pipe and bob to the surface yet.
One lesson of 2020 and 2022 is that GOP voters have gone nose-blind to loser stink. They don’t smell it on Trump and his kooky candidates, and if Trump does self-destruct, maybe they won’t smell it on DeSantis either. But the stench is powerful.
*Honestly? It just feels like Florida in July to me so far. But I don’t have to work outdoors.