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DeSantis scolds students for wearing masks because he's a child

The Florida governor admonished students at a press conference for wearing masks to stop the spread of Covid, proving he's an annoyance to all ages.


On Wednesday, a video made the rounds on Twitter showing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis admonishing high school students for wearing face masks to curb the spread of Covid

“You do not have to wear those masks,” a finger-wagging DeSantis told the students as he went to take the podium. “Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything. We’ve got to stop with this Covid theater. So, if you want to wear it, fine — but this is ridiculous.” 

We’ve discussed DeSantis’ attempts to sabotage Covid safety measures on multiple occasions, but Wednesday was perhaps the most juvenile of them all — a tantrum over children doing their part to protect themselves and others from a disease DeSantis has never seemed to take seriously. And that scene was one of several petulant performances the governor put on during the press conference. 

He also took a dig at President Joe Biden — whom DeSantis has framed as a political foe — saying he fell asleep during Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday. And he mocked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s leading voice on the Covid response and a frequent target of conservative vitriol. DeSantis said Fauci “is in the witness protection program now," claiming the Biden administration is hiding the public health expert to avoid having him speak about Covid safety measures. (Fauci participated in a press conference Wednesday and said the U.S. Covid response is moving in the right direction.) 

DeSantis’ repeated pestering of his political opponents begs an honest question about the governor, a man seen as a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024: Is he too annoying to become president? 

What’s DeSantis’ excuse for being so insufferable? He isn’t backed by the same decadeslong folklore Trump benefited from in the lead-up to 2016.

On a number of issues he’s prioritized, he’s out of step with a majority of Americans. DeSantis has vehemently opposed mask requirements, for example, yet a majority of Americans support mask requirements and other Covid safety measures, according to a February CBS/YouGov poll. DeSantis has also proposed and backed plans to ban school lessons about racism, but another CBS/YouGov poll found large majorities of Americans think such teachings are helpful in learning about other people’s experiences. 

All this to say: DeSantis’ political obsessions aren’t America’s obsessions, and there’s more than enough reason to think his focus on them — popular as it may be among Republicans — would deeply irritate people across the country. 

I’m sure many of you are wishing you could remind me that Donald Trump, a committed Twitter troll, was president.

And yes, Trump was and remains annoying (and, more seriously, a wannabe authoritarian). But he also spent years manicuring a faulty image of wealth. And that, at least to some, explained why his annoyances should be tolerated.

Even in the early stages of Trump's candidacy, a lot of his worst character traits were excused by his supporters, many of whom saw in him an ostensibly wealthy businessman whose riches insulated him from normal, acceptable human interaction. 

But what’s DeSantis’ excuse for being so insufferable? He isn’t backed by the same decadeslong folklore Trump benefited from in the lead-up to 2016. When it comes to his Trumpian traits, DeSantis has the nasally voice, the ill-fitting suits (tailor the sleeves and iron the back, already!), but none of the backstory that made these and more sinister behaviors palatable to many. 

He’s just a nuisance. That’s worked for him in Florida. I have doubts it’ll work for him beyond that.