Donald Trump talked a big game about draining “The Swamp” – the elite of Washington D.C. who cut deals and ran the country with little regard for the people who actually live from sea to shining sea.
The Swamp was one of Trump’s primary villains, particularly during the 2016 campaign and early years of his presidency. They were everywhere. They didn’t want him to succeed. They were always out to get him.
And, to be fair, we have seen how the intelligence community and the leaders in the upper echelons of the military actively worked against Trump. The Swamp, as it turns out, is very real and does need to be drained. But, over time, Trump’s attitude toward The Swamp changed. He referenced them less and less. He focused his attacks on some Republicans (the governors who opened their states before he told them they could) and the Democrats constantly attacking him. The Swamp was no longer an issue.
Enter Ron DeSantis, who is likewise not a friend of The Swamp in D.C. (which actually sounds like a fake Cajun restaurant in the nation’s capital and the fact that it isn’t is a failure of capitalism, probably).
In an interview with the New Yorker, a GOP Congressman who endorsed Trump describes his reasons for not supporting DeSantis and it sounds… exactly like The Swamp. Excuse the long block quote, but this interview was transcribed in a Q&A format, so I’m just copying the relevant section here so you can understand my… concerns.
Last week, DeSantis went to Washington, D.C., where he met with a group of Republican lawmakers to try to shore up support. One of them, Representative Lance Gooden, of Texas, made an endorsement shortly afterward—for Trump. Gooden is in his third term representing Texas’s Fifth District; he voted against certifying electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in 2020. Gooden and I recently spoke by phone about his endorsement, the G.O.P.’s concerns about DeSantis, and whether abortion could hurt the Republican Party next year.
What did you make of DeSantis before you met him?
I’ll be very candid. I don’t want to sound critical. I’ll just report back.
A lot of the information I have learned about Ron DeSantis has come from some of my colleagues who served with him. DeSantis left Congress as I was entering Congress, so I did not know him as a colleague. I spoke with some members who said he was a nice guy, but instead of going and having a beer after work he would go home and get on FaceTime with his wife and kids for an hour or two, which is admirable.
As a father myself, it is very difficult to be going back and forth across the country every week. A lot of times, I will call it a night early, have a quick bite, and then I’ll jump on the phone and talk to my kids while they’re doing their homework. I get that. I respect that. But every time I say no to a dinner invitation, or no to a social activity with a colleague, then I am turning down an opportunity to grow my list of allies.
Washington is very much a back-slapping, cigar-smoking, beer-drinking-type city. Because he did not do that, and because he was also in the Freedom Caucus, where they inevitably annoy some folks from time to time, I don’t know that he had those close relationships. When he got to Florida—I think he’s done a fantastic job, but I don’t know that he has the personal touch that perhaps Donald Trump has or that I understand his wife, Mrs. DeSantis, has. He has struggled with that. He has certainly been very late to the game. He probably should have come to Washington and started requesting meetings with members eight to ten months ago.
If I’m reading this correctly, Rep. Lance Gooden believes that because Ron DeSantis would prefer to spend his free time talking to his family and not going out and drinking, smoking cigars, and cutting deals, he’s unfit to be the President of the United States. That certainly seems like an odd thing to claim. Considering how successful DeSantis has been in Florida, working with Republicans in the legislature and scoring conservative victories, you would think that it’s quite possible he’s capable of gaining allies without all the deal-cutting, cigar-smoking backroom meetings.
What Gooden is saying is that he doesn’t think Ron DeSantis is transactional enough to be president, while Donald Trump certainly was. He’s transactional with anyone. He’s a businessman. That’s what he does. He makes transactions.
As a reminder, there’s an absolutely brutal ad on just how transactional Trump can be with anyone on any issue – including the Democrats on gun control.
Gooden’s interview is part of a larger media narrative that’s been building for a while, trying to cast DeSantis as some lone wolf with zero people skills and, thus, unfit for the job he appears to be angling for. But it’s a narrative being built in support of a man who lost in 2020, moved to Florida, began attacking DeSantis for aggressively shutting down the state, and then began attacking him for opening the state too soon and killing everyone and ruining the state’s economy because of it.
It’s not exactly a coherent narrative.
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