I made a bold prediction in the spring: Ron DeSantis will never beat Trump unless he beats Disney first. Turns out I could’ve just said that DeSantis will never beat Trump. True, DeSantis came nowhere near breaking and humiliating Disney in any way, and especially not in his court battle with the gay-loving company, and I said he’d have to do this or eat Donald Trump’s dust. But he would’ve been eating Trump’s dust anyway. DeSantis is a radioactive turkey no matter what’s going on back in his state. Nobody rags the Florida gov about his failed attempt at keeping Disney from doing pretty much whatever it wants with its properties at Disney World. The whole affair is a dead letter to pundits and voters. DeSantis made a fool of himself by proclaiming victory while the foe outfoxed him in plain sight. But DeSantis makes a fool of himself whenever he looks at the camera and his face does one of those things it does. He makes a pest and a twerp of himself whenever he opens his mouth and that nasal car alarm comes out.
Even non-Republicans don’t find Trump as off-putting as DeSantis. Trump is obnoxious and strange, but that’s in addition to his prevailing trait, which is that he’s overwhelming. To get a full idea of this angle, consider a rival candidate, the vastly overweight Chris Christie. Christie looks like a very fat man, whereas Trump looks like a refrigerator that also happens to be fat. There’s no doubt that Trump’s gross and one never forgets it. But the fatness, the nastiness, and the strangeness all contribute to an effect greater than any of them, an effect greater than their combination. As a human he’s inferior, but for him human status seems like a bit of a mailing address. He’s more of an entity. With DeSantis there’s no such factor. He just comes off as the vice principal you hated, or the guy three cubicles over yelling at his cable provider.
Nikki Haley’s now the second-place candidate. Back in June I liked Tim Scott and Chris Christie for joint runners-up. Scott’s black and he makes a big point of his saintly good cheer, so a vote for him could make a person feel serene and benevolent. Christie’s huge, baleful, and a speaker of great force, so the GOP’s remaining non-MAGAs might see in him a vehicle for relieving their feelings. Pummel Trump or let benevolence waft your spirit up and out of his range; either way you’ve got a clear alternative to the Trump experience. But Scott’s done for and Christie’s just hanging on. Instead, people are talking about Haley. Down in Florida, DeSantis did rack up a long, long list of victories for the conservative cause; Haley didn’t back when she governed South Carolina. Unlike Scott she isn’t black, and unlike Christie she never quite unwound herself from Trump’s finger. She’s peppy and presentable but that’s about it. My prediction: Scott for vice president.