DeSantis discipline defies deceptions

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

I tried hard to get that alliteration. Not sure it was worth it though.

You may have seen that Donald Trump and his allies have gone all-in on accusing Governor DeSantis of being a sexual predator.


At issue is a photo that surfaced years ago that purports to show DeSantis at 22 or 23 partying with young high school girls. At the time DeSantis was a teacher at a private high school.

There is no confirmation of the identity of the students themselves, or that the photo actually shows DeSantis. In other words, nobody in the photo is identified definitively, nobody knows the ages of the women in the photo, and if the man in the photo is indeed a young DeSantis all we know is that he drank a beer with women of indeterminate age.

Photos of college-age men–DeSantis had just graduated–drinking beer and enjoying the company of young women is hardly shocking or unique. It is as likely that he was enjoying the company of college girls in the photo as anyone else. We know Trump himself doesn’t drink, but it is rumored that he likes to grab women in the crotch. A rumor spread by Trump himself, so it is odd that he is using this line of attack on somebody else.

Trump’s allies are circulating the photo again, accusing DeSantis of being a “groomer.” Trump himself circulated the photo on Truth Social, with the Ron DeSanctimonious nickname attached to heighten the interest.

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday escalated his feud with potential 2024 rival Ron DeSantis, by accusing him of drinking alcohol with students when he was a high school teacher.

On his Truth Social page, Trump responded to a post that included a photo allegedly showing the the governor of Florida standing next to a group of female students, one of whom is holding a beer bottle.

“Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher,” a caption on the user’s post reads.

Trump, resharing the image, responded, “No way?” and, “That’s not Ron, is it?”

The New York Times reported that the photo was taken after the 2001 to 2002 academic year that DeSantis spent as a teacher at Darlington School in Rome, Georgia.

The image has been in circulation since October 2021, when it was published by HillReporter who claimed it had been provided to them by an anonymous source.


DeSantis didn’t take the bait. Asked about it he shrugged it off as just another day at the office. He’s always getting defamed. What is different about this? He never mentioned Trump. And, as you can see from the news story quoted above, even reporters aren’t exactly excited by the story. Old, old news.

DeSantis’ discipline is impressive. He simply won’t engage in a back-and-forth with Trump, lumping all criticisms and accusations together as the normal noise of being an effective governor doing the work for the people. Which, of course, it is. Trump is actually mimicking the types of attacks that are thrown at DeSantis by the MSM and the Left all the time.

The media is barely interested in the story, as you can see. It was all litigated in Florida long ago and nobody cares. The only interesting angle is that Trump is dredging it up.


I am genuinely flummoxed by how off his game Trump is right now. He is doing OK in the polls, although he actually has no genuine opponents in the race. DeSantis is a hard target to hit because conservatives love him, and the attacks ring hollow. The whole DeSantis is a RINO groomer soft on immigration doesn’t ring true. And the fact that Trump endorsed the governor in the past reminds everybody that he is attacking pretty much every person he has ever hired or supported, which suggests he isn’t great at picking subordinates.

It’s a bizarre strategy, and there is something very personal about it. Trump has picked a poor nickname, made lame attacks, and is being made to look small by appearing desperate to destroy a fellow Republican who has turned his state Red.

I’m not sure if DeSantis’ “ignore the attacks” strategy is a result of having dissected Trump’s tactics and identifying a weakness in them, or whether he has simply endured so many ridiculous attacks that they slide off like water off a duck’s back. Probably both.


Trump has a good shot at getting the endorsement, despite many Republicans experiencing Trump fatigue. Republicans believe Trump got a raw deal, because he actually did get a raw deal, and generally have wished him well. How much goodwill he will gain vs lose in attacking DeSantis has yet to be seen, but you have to think he is taking a big risk.

Truth Social attack on DeSantis
Truth Social attack on DeSantis

Whichever the case, there is little evidence that anybody but hardcore Trump supporters are taking the accusations seriously, and even they are doing so for purely strategic reasons. It’s not like they are defending the virtue of young women, given their loyalty to Trump.

I am hardly a typical Republican primary voter, so I have no idea who has the best chance of winning the nomination. But I have yet to see any evidence that the Trump camp strategy of trying to destroy DeSantis has made a dent in his popularity with conservatives. I suspect that they do more to dent Trump’s.

But that is just an educated guess.


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