All he had to do was briefly set aside his extreme right-wing politics. However, that was clearly a hurdle too high for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
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If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was hoping to look like a petty jerk who is putting partisan politics before the people of his state, then he scored a major victory this weekend. If not, then he failed pretty miserably by blowing off a meeting with visiting President Joe Biden.
Earlier this week, we wrote that Hurricane Idalia afforded DeSantis a real opportunity to stop the tailspin of his presidential campaign. The storm put the media spotlight on the governor and gave him a chance to look like a leader who can get things done.
All he had to do was to leave his extreme right-wing politics out of it, which seemed like a simple enough thing in the case of a natural disaster. However, that was clearly a hurdle too high for DeSantis.
First, he made an idiotic remark about the extra-judicial killing of looters. It just seemed like the kind of rehearsed thing somebody would say who wants to pretend to be a tough guy.
Still, that was a relatively minor thing.
Where DeSantis really screwed up was in refusing to meet with Biden, who had dropped by to assess the damage and to deliver promises of federal assistance.
Regardless of whether there is much point to such a visit, it’s the kind of thing presidents are expected to do in the aftermath of a disaster.
And the governor of the ravaged state is supposed to be there to greet them. Then they walk a few steps and do some finger-pointing into the distance for the cameras before holding a joint press conference praising each other for their work and promising that things will get fixed.
The benefit of such an event is that the people who have lost everything know that help is on the way. At the same time, the rest of Americans see that even political adversaries can put partisanship aside for a minute to provide aid and comfort to those in need.
Here is what this look like when done right:
Biden: I want to thank the Senator..
Scott: Can I just say something about what the President has done. First of all the President did a great a job… pic.twitter.com/JxILfvXkQl
— Acyn (@Acyn) September 2, 2023
Instead of meeting DeSantis, Biden got a tour from Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). These two men are ordinarily not fans of each other. However, because a major hurricane is not an ordinary thing, they managed to have some kind words for each other, which puts both of them in a good light.
This is also the kind of thing the media really likes, and you can rest assured that just about every story highlighting this moment of bipartisanship in the face of crisis also mentioned that DeSantis had snubbed Biden.
Still, the president even had some kind words for the governor.
At a press conference, he was asked whether he was disappointed that he did not meet with DeSantis, and, instead of taking shots at him, Biden praised him for having helped arrange his trip to Florida and only said that the governor “may have had other reasons” for not meeting him.
Yes, he did: appealing to the extreme right wing of his party, i.e., the people who will definitely vote for Donald Trump in the primary.
It’s really remarkable that DeSantis managed to get elected twice because he is really bad at all of this. Well, unless he is trying to look like a jerk, of course, in which case he is doing an excellent job.