they normally reserve this treatment for democratic women and barack obama
— GOLIKEHELLMACHINE (@golikehellmachi) January 17, 2023
Seems as though Ron DeSantis is not the 2024 candidate the Republican elite would’ve chosen. But, at the present moment, he’s the best alternative to TFG they’ve got… and, that being so, Politico will join the work crew dedicated to reshaping his public image. Sorta. While carefully preserving a level of ‘ironic’ deniability, just in case:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When a couple hundred major donors to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s inauguration arrived at a candlelight dinner to the sounds of a solo saxophonist the night before his swearing-in last week they found a pair of surprises waiting for them.
In a departure from the pedestrian fare found at most political banquets, DeSantis, a food-lover with Italian roots, flew in the crew from Carbone, the trendy, New York-founded restaurant chain that moved to Miami last year, to both make a point about companies relocating to Florida and to offer a treat to contributors who gave at least $25,000.
Yet what was even more of a thrill to the donors than Carbone’s signature spicy rigatoni was what happened during the dinner: DeSantis and his wife, Casey, went table to table greeting and thanking the attendees.
Such a gesture would hardly be noteworthy for most politicians. But the early rap on DeSantis from his fellow Republicans is that, for all his smarts and shrewdness, he lacks charm, and is either unwilling or unable to submit to the longstanding rituals of retail politics.
So the mere fact that he table-hopped at a dinner in his honor — and that more than a few of his contributors were thrilled enough about the personal touch to recount it to me after the closed-press fete — is revealing.
The governor’s glad-handing illustrates that he’s absorbed the critique about his aloofness and is making an effort at rebutting it. The delighted response about an unremarkable show of gratitude demonstrates how little of it he’s done to date; and the relish with which his glancing interactions were recalled indicates how low the expectations bar is for DeSantis and what it means to an important constituency when he clears said bar…
Counterargument, from Lulu Garcia-Navarro in a NYTimes op-ed — “Republicans Are Getting It Wrong About DeSantis and Florida” (unpaywalled ‘gift’ link):
… The case for Mr. DeSantis… isn’t just that he looks comparatively sage next to Mr. Trump. It’s also that he spoke out early against lockdowns and has overseen a growing economy. Florida now has the fastest-growing population in the country, a factoid that Mr. DeSantis’s spokesman, Jeremy Redfern, immediately touted after it was announced. “People vote with their feet,” he said. “We are proud to be a model for the nation, and an island of sanity in a sea of madness.”
Most criticism of Mr. DeSantis’s national electability has been centered around his lack of charisma, which Mr. Trump crystallized by giving him the cumbersome nickname Ron DeSanctimonious. But focusing on personality and style obscures the governor’s real failings: Florida is not a model for the nation, unless the nation wants to become unaffordable for everyone except rich snowbirds.
While my home state’s popularity might indeed seem like good news for a governor with presidential ambitions, a closer look shows that Florida is underwater demographically. Most of those flocking there are aging boomers with deep pockets, adding to the demographic imbalance for what is already one of the grayest populations in the nation. This means that Florida won’t have the younger workers needed to care for all those seniors. And while other places understand that immigrants, who often work in the service sector and agriculture, two of Florida’s main industries, are vital to replenishing aging populations, Mr. DeSantis and the state G.O.P. are not exactly immigrant-friendly, enacting legislation to limit the ability of people with uncertain legal status to work in the state…