Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appeared on Fox News on Sunday and was asked about Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game from Georgia in response to the state's new voter-suppression law. The Republican offered a memorable response.
"These businesses, I guess they have the right to do what they want," DeSantis said. "But if you're gonna stick your beak into issues that don't directly concern you, then I think elected officials are then gonna stick their beak into issues that may not concern them."
The governor's tone was reminiscent of movies about organized-crimes figures. Corporate America has a problem with the Republican Party's voter-suppression campaign? Then Corporate America should expect the GOP to push back in kind.
But the Florida governor's rhetoric was mild compared to the open letter his predecessor, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), published on Fox Business' website a day later.
The senator's rather creepy letter, directed at "Woke Corporate America," mocked executives for criticizing voter-suppression measures, derided their "elitist friends," accused them of "supporting" violent activists, insisted that they're "lying" about Georgia's perfectly reasonable voter-suppression law, and derided their "moral inferiority."
At times Scott's open letter bordered on hysterical, lashing out at businesses that "feed the rabble leftist mob," and work alongside the "liberal corporate news media" that is "just as dishonest" as private-sector executives. He also condemned President Joe Biden, insisting he "demonstrates how to lie in public and get away with it."
It was around this point at which the senator's statement took an even darker turn, sounding a bit like a two-dimensional villain from a poorly written action movie:
"Let me give you woke corporate leaders a heads-up: Everybody can see the game you are playing. Everybody can see your lies. You are the naked emperor.... And here is another bit of news for you: There is a massive backlash coming. You will rue the day when it hits you. That day is November 8, 2022. That is the day Republicans will take back the Senate and the House. It will be a day of reckoning."
And what, pray tell, will happen if there's a GOP Congress? According to Rick Scott, Republicans will "make corporate welfare a thing of the past."
The Republican senator added, "There will be no number of well-connected lobbyists you can hire to save you. There will be no amount of donations you can make that will save you. There will be nowhere for you to hide."
How very dramatic.
To be sure, Rick Scott's written tantrum was over the top, but it merely represents a partisan escalation from recent weeks. The more Republicans have tried to make it harder for Americans to vote, the more business leaders have expressed support for voting rights, leading to increasingly provocative GOP threats of retaliation.
The message is hardly subtle: Republicans expect Corporate America to give them campaign contributions, and then look the other way when the party advances voter-suppression measures.
But the Florida senator's open letter generates a few questions: If Rick Scott and his party are suddenly opposed to "corporate welfare," why is he waiting until after the 2022 midterms to act? If he were serious about this, why not work with the Democratic majority to scale back corporate welfare right now?
What's more, does Scott have some kind of quid pro quo in mind? In other words, if "Woke Corporate America" were to become more tolerant of Republican attacks on voting rights, would the senator and his cohorts decide that corporate welfare can continue indefinitely?