DeSantis Finds His Voice
Plus: Did DeSantis Really Walk Back His Ukraine Comments?
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TIM MILLER: DeSantis Finds His Voice: A NatCon Culture Warrior Who Praised a Prominent White Nationalist.
There is no role in which the old maxim “personnel is policy” is more apt than that of presidential speechwriter. And there is good reason for that role to hold its exalted place in the mythos of the office.
Trump’s “American Carnage” was no doubt shaped by the dark, nativist views of his Gollum-like muse. Obama’s West Wing–era hopey-changey optimism was colored by the earnest and youthful pod-bros who wrote for him. And Bush’s Chesterton-infused evangelizing was sculpted by the faith of Michael Gerson and Matthew Scully. To say nothing of the last century’s legendary scribes for Reagan, JFK, and FDR (whose speechwriters included a multi-Pulitzer-winning playwright).
So I perked up when I heard scuttlebutt a few weeks ago that Ron DeSantis had chosen a speechwriter not from the ranks of the GOP’s classically liberal old order, but from the brash online “new right” that is more animated by culture wars and MAGA identity politics than by free markets and free people.
WILLIAM SALETAN: DeSantis vs. DeSantis?
Has he really walked back his remarks about the Ukraine war?
Many Republicans, alarmed by isolationist comments from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, would like to see him pivot and support aid to Ukraine. This desire aligns them with the press, which tends to see any shift of position, particularly by a Republican presidential contender, as a flip-flop or walkback. So it’s natural that DeSantis’s latest remarks on this subject, in an interview with Piers Morgan that aired Thursday night on Fox Nation, are being reported as evidence that the governor has “changed course,” “reversed” himself, and “sought to toughen his position.”
Don’t believe it. DeSantis has hardly budged. In the interview, he rephrased one of several reasons he previously gave for opposing aid to Ukraine: that the war was just a “territorial dispute.” But he reaffirmed his other arguments against American involvement, and he added further reasons to stay out.
DeSantis gets over his skis on Ukraine, ‘Don’t Say Gay’ escalates, and it’s not racist to criticize the CCP. Plus, the crowd that warns of death and destruction if Trump is indicted said nothing about Trump ripping the country apart. Tim Miller joins Charlie Sykes for your weekend pod.
Philip K. Howard joins the group to discuss his book on public sector unions. The panel — with special guest Cathy Young — also addresses Trump’s possible indictment and looks back at the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.
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SONNY BUNCH: ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Review.
The one thing everyone, even the folks who quite liked it, as I did, more or less agreed on about John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum, is that the desert sojourn—during which John Wick (Keanu Reeves) walks until he is nearly dead so as to meet the elder above the High Table to ask for his forgiveness only to immediately throw that forgiveness away and go right back to killing High Table functionaries without sanction—was, well, a bit much. If you were looking to trim it a hair to get down from the 131-minute runtime, some of that probably could have gone.
Director Chad Stahelski thanks you for your notes and would like you to know that this 169-minute action opus opens right back in that desert with John Wick headed right toward the elder, and if you don’t like it, well, maybe this isn’t the movie for you.
GABRIEL SCHOENFELD: Learning from America’s Failure to Lead Between the World Wars.
As we draw closer to the next presidential election a great national debate about the Russia-Ukraine war is unfolding—and time is not on Ukraine’s side. American support of Ukraine is vital to its survival. But critics of such support are multiplying on the left and especially the right. Former president Donald Trump is openly on the side of Russia and more than hinting that he would disband NATO if re-elected president. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, currently Trump’s leading challenger for the 2024 Republican nomination, has declared that the war is merely a distant “territorial dispute” in which we have no special interest. Arrayed against them are President Joe Biden, most elected Democrats, and—at least for now—many prominent congressional Republicans. On the outcome of this debate hinges the fate of Ukraine and the future peace of Europe and the United States.
We have engaged in such consequential debates before, and not with happy results. To recall them, we now have The Ghost at the Feast by the historian Robert Kagan. It is the second volume in a projected trilogy; the first, Dangerous Nation (2006), told the story of American foreign relations from the first colonies up to the close of the nineteenth century. The new book, beginning with the 1898 war with Spain and ending just as the United States enters the Second World War, is pregnant with meaning for the conduct of American foreign policy today.
Happy Friday! Who’s ready for the weekend? My bracket position has improved, so my chances of placing dead last seem slim. My strategy of giving extra preference to Jesuit schools pays off again: Go Creighton, Gonzaga, and Xavier!
Defending him all the time… Is how you get moar Trump, Sarah Longwell argues on Meet the Press.
Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder. (Except for the Leafs!) President Biden is in Ottawa today, speaking to the Canadian Parliament. Biden’s still got a fastball, a friend observes.
Camping with Steve… I live vicariously through Steve Wallis, a Canadian stealth camper. Since I have little time to camp, his videos are just a joy to watch. Last year, Wallis unexpectedly lost his wife and the joy camping in the beautiful Canadian wilderness brings him is a welcome escape from the bad news of the day.
Trump and the wrong side of the religious right… A must read Tim Alberta dispatch at The Atlantic.
Andy Biggs went on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal… And it went about as poorly as you’d expect.
Jim Jordan is a blind! When asked if he’s seen Trump’s social media post about death and destruction, he said he hasn’t. When shown it, he said he needed his glasses (which he apparently didn’t have) and couldn’t read it. The days of “I didn’t see it” are here again. Don’t let ‘em get away with it!
The moral dilemma of working for Trump… It’s a buyer’s market for political job seekers, why pick Trump?
The missing Trump portrait was found! In a hotel basement, next to some yoga mats.
“Amateur hour…” The Ron DeSantis Roadies aren’t sticking around.
It pays to be an #Influencer… TikTok influencers got free hotel stays to rally for the embattled social network platform in Washington.
Genuinely curious… how the professional staff of Florida’s legislature read these names and didn’t realize they were being punked is beyond me.
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