Matt covered this brain worms nuttery from GOP-operative-turned-MSNBC-leftist Nicolle Wallace earlier in the week, so consider the following clip a complimentary palate cleanser. This is about as close as you will ever get to an admission of failure from the left, which has been absolutely flogging the narrative that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ("DeathSentence") has been presiding over a toxic hellscape in his state. They've thrown everything they've got at him, but the results are in, and even these MSNBC panelists can't help but notice. This is remarkable not because it's revelatory in any way; it's remarkable because of who the messengers are – offering these admissions on national television through gritted teeth:
MSNBC's panel grudgingly admits that "if you really look at the numbers" from Covid, "Florida actually came out all right...And the economy is strong."— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) April 20, 2022
Less than 30 seconds later, they say it's "not all rosy" and "caution us from heaping a little too much praise" on DeSantis. pic.twitter.com/EJuZ7ppC3H
Symone Sanders was a Bernie backer who went to work for the Biden administration, recently joining the rolling exodus from the vice president's office. She starts by reminding viewers that she has lots of criticisms of DeSantis, and ends the clip cautioning against "heaping a little too much praise" on the governor, which does not seem like much of a risk at that network. But it's what she sandwiches in between her requisite caveats that is attention-grabbing. After all the hysteria, ratcheted up endlessly, Florida "actually came out alright" on COVID – which is true, as we've noted repeatedly:
Top & bottom ten states on these combined metrics, per the study. People will focus on FL vs. NY/CA dynamic for obvious reasons, but shout-out to Utah and Nebraska: pic.twitter.com/eFP1Gzuoao— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 11, 2022
According to this metric, Florida is smack dab average on "excess deaths" during the pandemic – not bad at all for a state with one of the oldest populations in the country. And the economic progress in Florida speaks for itself. Gov. DeSantis made this point when I interviewed him a few weeks ago:
"First I would say how many people are moving from his state, fleeing to come to mine for freedom versus vice-versa? And I guarantee you we win in the net — in migration people are leaving California in numbers we’ve never seen because of his failed policies. And here’s what I’d say about the pandemic. If you look at the COVID mortality, people point out California has less per capita mortality than Florida, which is true — they’re also the second youngest state. So if you adjust by age, we’re one of the oldest states, we’re very similar. However, this is where I think his leadership has been terrible. If you look at excess mortality, California’s had a higher percentage of excess mortality since COVID started than Florida — so that includes COVID, but it’s not limited...Those are lockdown deaths, absolutely. Those are deaths that his policies have caused, driving people to despair, drug addiction, lack of opportunities."
This was also fun, from the same MSNBC segment:
This clip is made by Chuck Todd informing her a few seconds later that the Disney lobbyists did, in fact, lose. https://t.co/uulRWeuRbM— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) April 20, 2022
Ignoring the irony of a Bernie backer rooting for corporate lobbyists in this context, Todd informs her that, in fact, the Disney lobbyists had just lost the Florida Senate vote. A few days later, the Florida House followed suit. I've been harshly critical of Disney's hypocrisy, and part of me certainly enjoys seeing Republicans turning the screws to the company here. Ultimately, though, I tend to agree with Charles Cooke and Philip Klein on this tactic:
DeSantis and the legislature pushed through a sensible education bill, and then stared down Disney’s ridiculous, hysterical criticisms. They fought. They won. There is no need for them to salt the earth, take revenge, or make Florida’s policies worse. https://t.co/fmVkfhUVU7— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) April 20, 2022
My column: "Ron DeSantis and the Fight Club Conservatives" https://t.co/jKrJCR2fMw— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) April 22, 2022
I don't like this targeted, punitive, retribution in principle, I don't like the precedent, and I don't know if these particular changes would work out well in practice. If I were convinced that this sort of public "example-making" could help level the playing field by "bullying" institutions back toward cultural neutrality, I might be willing to support it. (For the record, the left uses government levers of power for all sorts of culture war bullying – from the Obama administration suing nuns to force them to violate their beliefs, to the state of Colorado persecuting a baker, to big-city mayors assailing a Christian-run fast-food franchise, to blue states officially boycotting red states, just to name a handful of examples off the top of my head). There is something viscerally appealing about the "fight fire with fire" approach, and many conservatives are unequivocally siding with DeSantis on this. But I suspect escalation will only deepen our angry, dysfunctional polarization on the whole. I understand that the alternative feels like unilateral disarmament in some respects, and I don't know what the best "solution" is (winning elections and legislative battles seems like a pretty good one, actually). But I still can't shake the conviction that this is a misuse of government power and that conservatives shouldn't do what we angrily denounce when it comes from the left.