Politics & Media
Jun 06, 2023, 05:57AM

Loser Ron and His Mystery Bellyflop

Blamed on guru, robocall still baffles.

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Nine days is enough to be legal, so Ron DeSantis broke no laws when he made that call. DeSantis wouldn’t declare for president until May 24, and in the meantime he could communicate with the super PAC and perhaps do its boss a favor. But what a favor. Never mind the law: what he did was unnatural. The governor of Florida violated himself. But the man at the PAC violated themselves too, or so it would appear. Savvy inside players have derided the DeSantis gambit, but so far no one has explained it.

The gambit took the form of an endorsement and a robocall, both done the day before Kentucky’s primary for governor. Too late to be useful and the candidate was behind by dozens of points, which was how she finished the following day. DeSantis put his name on a wipeout and has duly suffered headlines about his faulty political mojo right when he’s trying to be the man who can lead a nation and beat Donald Trump. The dummy had to stick his nose into Kentucky for a dead-in-the-water candidate, a very rich candidate who had paid her chief political handlers around $7.5 million. The same handlers also run Never Back Down, the chief PAC devoted to making DeSantis president, and that’s the angle some unfriendly souls have seized upon.

A big name robocall represents results of some kind, though it’s parsley and not steak. Perhaps DeSantis allowed himself to be Axiom Strategies’ deluxe parsley, delivered to candidate Kelly Craft as proof that she’d bought something after all. Axiom’s known for using one client to do something for another, and in this case the something involved having the governor pants himself while auditioning for president. “Ted Cruz has sold himself out to whatever Axiom tells him to do, and Ron seems to be on the same path,” a GOP consultant opined (Cruz endorsed Craft early in May and 14 other Axiom clients last year). Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said DeSantis is “subservient to his political consultants.”

The idea isn’t far-fetched. Mean Dukakis is a stuffed shirt; he’ll yell at reporters and make trouble for librarians, but get the drop on him and he has nothing to resist with, no grit separate from having the upper hand. Perhaps Jeff Roe, boss of Axiom Strategies, has the drop on him. The late date, Kelly Craft’s polls, her being a Trump supporter—apparently DeSantis made none of these points to his political maven. Or if he did, he couldn’t make them stick. One imagines him getting worn down and finally going “Oh, all right,” and now the call wouldn’t do any good but Roe insisted anyway to show who’s boss.

But the consultant would be punishing himself too, or so I’d think. Craft’s $7.5 million doesn’t look like much against the $120 million that Never Back Down’s reported to have; the PAC has already spent $10 million just on TV commercials. Roe’s compensation may not work strictly by percentage, but there’s a lot more butter on one side of the bread. Money aside, when you run a presidential campaign your broad career interests are aligned with those of the client. You’re both going to win or both going to lose, and either way the whole world knows. Yet Roe tossed a marble under the feet of his big campaign, one just getting underway, for the sake of a small campaign that was being prepared for death.

A second problem: in January DeSantis waited until the day before another election, the one for chairman of the Republican National Committee, and endorsed a candidate who went on to lose by two-to-one. The candidate, Harmeet Dhillon, resembled Kelly in being a fiftyish woman of good bone structure who’d worked for Trump. But Kelly was an ambassador, whereas Dhillon provided legal advice to Trump’s reelect and did her part to make trouble during the post-vote. One candidate made toasts to prime ministers and so on; the other told Lou Dobbs that the Supreme Court had to step up and get Pennsylvania counted right. DeSantis bellyflopped for the pair of them and neither has endorsed him.

Now this man thinks he’ll be president. He isn’t the type and he’s compelled to keep finding ways to remind us. And that’s the only theory I have to explain the mystery robocall.

  • Off Topic: I wondered about "parsley and not steak," so I searched for "parsley and not steak" and found only this article. Then I searched for "parsley not steak" and "parsley, not steak" and found just 2 hits, both by the same guy, one on his blog and the other in a comment on trekmovie.com. I did also find one hit for "steak not parsley." Of course I knew what you meant (meat vs dressing) but I wondered how widely-used the analogy was.

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  • Parsley aside, DeSantis is the GOP's best bet to beat Biden.

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