In just a week’s time, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has gone from menacing troll to docile figurehead. Evidently, it takes a natural disaster to put a (temporary) stop to his political terrorism.
It’s clearly been fun for DeSantis to treat Florida like his own fiefdom, boastfully signing laws restricting the right to vote, curbing teachers’ ability to discuss inequality in class, and punishing businesses that oppose his bigoted agenda. Seemingly auditioning for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis has portrayed himself as a foil to the Biden administration, filing lawsuits to undermine President Joe Biden’s agenda while taking public — and personal — potshots at the president.
But Hurricane Ian had DeSantis singing a different tune.
“I’m happy to brief the president if he’s interested in hearing what we’re doing in Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday.
“My view on all this is like, you’ve got people’s lives at stake, you’ve got their property at stake, and we don’t have time for pettiness,” he continued. “We’ve got to work together to make sure we’re doing the best job for them, so my phone line is open.”
Later in the day, he sang the Biden administration’s praises to Fox News host Sean Hannity.
"Well, Sean, you know, what I said today is that my phone line is open," DeSantis said. "When people’s lives and their property are at risk like this, we all need to work together regardless of party lines."
“It’s my sense that the administration wants to help,” he added. “I think they realize that this is a really significant storm, and there’s a lot of people that, you know, we’re working with the locals. We work very well with them. And, of course, at the state level. But we really need everyone working together to make people have their needs tended to.”
This, of course, is how government ought to operate. But Florida is lucky DeSantis’ and Biden’s roles aren’t reversed (as he’d like). Because history suggests he wouldn’t be nearly as eager to provide help as Biden is.
Florida belongs to all of us, not just DeSantis and his right-wing cronies. DeSantis should think about that next time he considers cruel political stunts.
On Wednesday, DeSantis asked Biden to approve a major disaster declaration for all 67 counties in Florida, which comes with federal funds to aid the recovery effort. The president promptly approved it — as he should have. But many people online were quick to note that DeSantis voted against a 2013 bill during his time in the House that would have given New Yorkers similar aid after Hurricane Sandy.
Floridians are fortunate that the Biden administration isn’t as cruel. And politically speaking, so is DeSantis.
During Tuesday's episode of "The ReidOut," retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who commanded the joint task force that ran relief efforts amid 2005's Hurricane Katrina, said DeSantis is benefiting from a storm response system put in place during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
“All the governor has to do is read the script, and he’s doing a darn good job of doing that right now,” Honoré said.
Today, fellow Americans across the country are what’s keeping Florida afloat, not the self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing governor. Not to get all “this land is made for you and me,” but the proof is in the pudding: Florida belongs to all of us, not just DeSantis and his right-wing cronies. DeSantis should think about that next time he considers cruel political stunts like relocating migrants to try to own the libs.
Because the next “refugees” seeking a place to stay could very well be from his state. Taxpayers are being called upon to finance Florida’s recovery, to aid its people’s resettlement and to show compassion for those who’ve endured trauma. And the U.S. is answering the call.
My countdown has begun for DeSantis to return to his normal depravity. But it’ll be a "normalcy" he relied on the rest of us to achieve.