The Art of Losing: A Ron DeSantis Story, Part II
2012-2017: Meatball Ron Goes to Washington.
On November 5th, 2022, Donald Trump took the stage at a rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The stakes were high. Ever since he left office at the beginning of 2021, he had looked towards the 2022 midterms as the moment where he would re-cement his dominance over the Republican Party and American politics. To this end, he had spent years meddling in Republican primaries around the country, utilizing his all-powerful endorsement to hand countless nominations over to his handpicked candidates. His political reputation was on the line—perhaps nowhere moreso than in the Keystone state. Both Republican nominees for statewide office (Doug Mastriano for Governor and Mehmet Oz for Senate) won their nominations either largely or exclusively because of his efforts. And while Mastriano’s race was essentially lost by that point, Oz’s odds seemed well and truly alive. If the TV star could pull through, it would give Trump a new ally in Congress, provide a demonstration of his electoral power in the nation’s most important swing state, and likely hand his party the Senate.
And if Oz lost, it would be one of the most stunning political humiliations that Trump and his wing of the party had ever seen.
All of this was what hung in the balance when the former President began to speak. But it wasn’t what was on his mind. For just 30 seconds, he went over all the reasons why the Republican Party would inevitably win that Tuesday, which was just a list of all the supposed highlights of his Presidency: low inflation, defeating ISIS, low crime, and on and on. Then, he segued.
“But we also have the best poll numbers. Where are they? Are they putting them up on the screen? I think so. Put ‘em up. Look. We’re winning big, big, big in the Republican Party for the nomination like nobody’s ever seen before. There it is, Trump at 71%, Ron DeSanctimonious at 10%.”
Ever since he dropped this nickname, Trump has been engaged in an all-out, no-holds-barred verbal assault on Ron DeSantis. In this, he has accused the Florida Governor of everything you can imagine and then some. He has accused him of being a bad governor of his state in every possible way, from jobs to crime to handling natural disasters. He has accused him of plagiarism. He has accused him of faking his own name. He has accused him of having no balls. He has even implied that DeSantis is a pedophile—then making sure to clarify that he was implying that DeSantis was, specifically, a gay pedophile.
But the one thing always on Trump’s mind, that truly gets to him, that he talks about constantly, is DeSantis’ lack of loyalty. He is utterly obsessed with it. He cannot believe the gall of this man who owes his office, his relevance, his entire career to Trump, to suddenly start opposing him. He constantly goes back to this point, telling his story of how DeSantis pathetically sucked up to him in everything from his speeches to his campaign statements to his attack ads. At some points, he’s even claimed that DeSantis shed actual tears while begging for his endorsement.
Usually, this would be the sort of thing you’d write off as the typical sort of hyperbole we’ve long come to expect from the former President. But the more and more you look into DeSantis’ pre-Trump career in Congress, and the more you learn about just how much of an unmitigated disaster it was, the more you’re led to a single, inescapable conclusion: Trump might not actually be lying about the tears.
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