Strike 3? Trump sides with Disney over DeSantis

AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

That makes three rather odd choices for the populists at Team Trump in the past week, and this one might be the oddest of all. First Donald Trump offered some praise for Gavin Newsom while the California governor made a fool of himself trying to talk his state’s ex-pats into returning to Newsom’s version of “freedom.” Next, Don Junior scolded conservatives over their grassroots boycott on Anheuser-Busch and the risk it posed to A-B’s donor support of the RNC.

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Now, Trump himself is back to attacking DeSantis for standing up to Disney, calling it a “political stunt” that would prompt Bob Iger to sell “the whole thing” off. “DeSanctus is being absolutely destroyed by Disney,” Trump posted this morning on Truth Social:

There is certainly room to debate how this feud started, and we’ve even had plenty of that right here among our VIP members in the comments. Disney decided to take part in the debate over the Parental Rights in Education Act and leverage its economic power in Florida to change policy — economic power that comes in part from a sweetheart corporatist tax-district structure that the state set up sixty years ago. DeSantis played hardball by wresting back control over Reedy Creek, and again, that’s open to criticism as well for using government power to punish political opposition.

What happened this month, however, forced the legislature to act. Disney manipulated the outgoing board to assign all its power to Disney, in essence creating an autonomous zone with Disney the sovereign, including over tax assessments and other policies. It created an almost-literal Mickey Mouse CHAZ and would have allowed Disney unfettered dominion over public policy in Reedy Creek. It was a stupidly provocative act, so much so that it included a silly covenant based on how long the British royal line would last, an affront that Jonathan Turley called the “Hail Mickey play” and insisted could not withstand legal scrutiny:

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Disney is used to being its own self-governing boss.

That history may have warped its judgment in attempting this power grab. It is a move that would make the pirates of the Caribbean blush.

The “declaration of restrictive covenants” gives Disney total control over development and even bans the new board from using Disney’s name or the names of any of its “fanciful characters.”

It added what is called a royal clause, used in England since 1692.

It specified this “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration.”

Rather than wait for this to go through the courts, DeSantis and the state legislature will instead change the statutes to put an end to the Mickey Mouse CHAZ more directly. Regardless of how this feud got started, Disney’s attempt to wrest sovereignty away from “we the people” is the apotheosis of everything that populists are supposed to despise, not cheer.

So why is the GOP’s Populist in Chief cheering Disney? John Cardillo also suspects a more pecuniary motive:

Cardillo’s not wrong. According to Open Secrets, about half of the Walt Disney Co’s $20 million in contributions in 2020 went to America First Action, a Trump-aligned PAC. For comparison, Joe Biden’s campaign got $1.285M in the same cycle:

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There’s nothing wrong with good fundraising, of course. However, this context makes it appear that Trump is choosing big corporate donors over conservo-populist principles.

But let’s put that aspect aside for the moment and look at the strategy involved. There is nothing coherent about running for the GOP presidential nomination on a populist, anti-establishment message and then siding with Disney, Anheuser-Busch, and Gavin frickin’ Newsom all in the same week. This looks more like a personal grudge meaning more to Trump than policy or even messaging. It’s a chaos approach, which might have been appealing in 2015-16 to set Trump apart from the usual Establishment figures. Trump, however, has already been president and wants to get re-elected to complete his work — so why side with the woke Establishment figures? Just to pwn “DeSanctus”?

Republicans will have to choose whether they want four more years of personal-grudge chaos or a candidate that can offer an effective pushback on their issues. Trump is making that choice excruciatingly acute over the past few days.

Meanwhile, the latest episode of The Ed Morrissey Show podcast is now up! Today’s show features:

  • It’s almost all over but the shouting. Andrew Malcolm look at the most recent additions and subtractions to the GOP presidential roster.
  • We also discuss Ron DeSantis’ press conference yesterday and what that means for Disney and the 2024 race
  • Andrew and I mull over Budweiser’s dilemma and why corporations may pay a price for all of their woke posturing.
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The Ed Morrissey Show is now a fully downloadable and streamable show at  SpotifyApple Podcaststhe TEMS Podcast YouTube channel, and on Rumble and our own in-house portal at the #TEMS page!

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024
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