Opinion: Brash young governor trumps Trump

The ace Gov. Rick DeSantis brings to the 2024 Republican table is simple: he won’t be indicted any day now.

An angry young man, 44, next to angry old Donald Trump, DeSantis is no treat. He’s learned his lessons well about hard Right, mean-spirited politics — from Trump himself.

The word “woke” is his front line of attack, tampering with original Black slang. It means an aware state of knowing the social cards stacked against you.

Armed with a Harvard Law degree, DeSantis is an even more dangerous man.

Democrats should not let down their game if the sullen Florida sourpuss overtakes Trump as the Republican frontrunner for president.

As well he might.

Trump looks his age, 76. Despite his bitter bluster, he knows it’s deeply humiliating to get arrested on a criminal charge, whether on Tuesday or not.

As a president brimming with hate, dealing in insults, boasts and lies, his animal sense may know the jig is up. It’s a first for a former president.

Yet he has the gall to run again, not to go gentle into that garish night, Mar-a-Lago.

Let it not be forgot Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden — by 7 million votes in 2020. The Jan. 6 Trump mob storming the Capitol made his stock plunge with all but the most rabid followers.

Pity the Republican party if they back a nominee with the law catching up with him in New York, Georgia and with Justice special counsel for Trump probes, Jack Smith. A porn actress payoff may be just the start of Trump’s tangled web of woes.

Actually, don’t pity the party. There are only a few good men left. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a super-shallow California Republican, is not of them.

Even Trump’s most avid devotees are quietly losing faith. A thousand were arrested for the Capitol breach and its violent crimes. Extremist groups, military veterans, former cops and everyday Americans are now sentenced to prison, one by one.

The message is unmistakable: A personal price is paid for joining a murderous mob against the government.

Another proud first in American history.

I’ve seen some defendants weep as they face the judge and beg for mercy, such as the Confederate flag carrier and the bare-chested man with helmet and horns.

Onto DeSantis. If he’s an adept candidate with a bit of chemistry, he could turn MAGA sound and fury into a spring wind. Still undeclared, he can present as a safer bet.

First, the Southern governor could brag about his inhumanity, as a Navy lawyer on Guantanamo. He looked up the book on how to force-feed detainees, suspects on hunger strikes. Keep in mind these were men jailed for long years, never brought to a court trial.

(President Barack Obama broke his pledge to close the island jail, a known burn pit for human rights.)

Second, DeSantis singling out gay and transgender young people proves he’s good at picking on the most vulnerable among us. That’s his way of the world, a strategic skill in the post-Trump party he clearly hopes to lead.

Meanwhile, public school teachers and librarians in Florida are under a culture siege from a new state law DeSantis has pushed.

All books available to schoolchildren must be vetted and approved. Florida’s rows of empty bookshelves are a sad sight for young minds.

That signals fear and dread spreading among people who dedicate their lives to kids learning. Policing minds is contagious.

Also, DeSantis shows a Trumpian lust for revenge. When Disney dared to differ with him on gender and gay issues, down came its own self-governing district. DeSantis will now control the board and government relations of the tourist giant, Disney World.

Like Trump’s Supreme Extreme Court, DeSantis marches in goose step against constitutional rights for women and girls. Beyond six weeks, he concurs, is too late to legally end a pregnancy.

Word is, DeSantis is brighter than Trump, so he’s capable of doing more harm, pressing levers of law and power against the American people.

Stay woke to DeSantis, my friends. As long as he stays at the table, he may play a trump card.

— Jamie Stiehm is a syndicated columnist with Creators.


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