DeSantis says Biden can ‘barely read,’ but our governor is not a model of fluency
“Because as bad as Biden is, even if he can barely read the teleprompter, and as much as people disapprove of him, no one wants Harris, and so they’d much rather stay with Biden floundering than spin the wheels of power. to someone who is clearly in over his head.
It was Governor Ron DeSantis who spoke about President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Fox News recently.
Pot, meet the kettle.
Like the president, who overcame a childhood stutter, our governor is no paragon of fluent speech. He uh and ah. He stutters. He drops sentences along the way. He often uses words such as “I want”, “I will” and “stuff”, and expressions like “you know”.
Not exactly a presidential-sounding grammarian, despite his Ivy League degrees at Yale University and Harvard Law School.
DeSantis’ press conferences are full of examples:
“Someone who wants to get into local government and become, like, a county executive, people who want to work in a state agency — you know, what kind of foundation do they have? And that’s really what we’re offering here: the opportunity for them to really excel. And, if you go through a lot and choose to do other things, it will still be very helpful for what you are going to do. (July 18, discussing civic academies.)
“So whenever there’s something in the news cycle or, you know, fake controversy or whatever, don’t even indulge in it. No worries. So we always stay focused on what we’re here to do and the things that really matter to people, and we’re not going to leave little jolts in public opinion” – he died. (June 21, address to Boys State.)
“You also have the mental health issue and, you know, my wife is very good at it and, you know, she will always tell me, you know, you have a deranged lunatic – that’s not necessarily what we mean by mental. health. Yeah, they probably have mental issues, that’s for sure. Perhaps there could have been interventions. (June 3, discussing the mass shootings.)
“And so, you do that and I think there’s a lot of really, really crazy people out there, unfortunately, who are really absorbed in ideology,” he said. “These are people who don’t really have, I think, a religious foundation or any kind of, of, a relationship with God, and so they’re looking to radical politics as kind of what they’re going to do. ” (June 9, DeSantis on politics as a substitute for religion.)
Rick Wilson, the former Republican political strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project, described the governor’s speech patterns as “discursive, wandering, oddly syntactic.”
He said a political speech coach once told him, “You can always tell people who read a lot. They speak in fuller sentences. Even their reading of speeches and remarks appears to be more coherent, more convincing, more thoughtful, etc.
“I don’t know what his reading habits are,” Wilson said, but his speech “almost sounds like a tweet. It’s like these little shards. They don’t always end; they don’t always land; they don’t always connect.
Susan MacManus, professor emeritus of politics at the University of South Florida, said in a phone interview that she saw DeSantis’ recent speeches at a Moms for Liberty conference and Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit to study his style of political communication.
She remarks that he will pose a question to an audience and then provide a hard-hitting answer to it.
“It’s sometimes a very effective way to get people’s attention, and if you give a short, succinct answer, they’re much more likely to remember it,” MacManus said. “Since it’s mainly aimed at a friendly audience, yes, I think it’s effective.”
MacManus pointed out that she was commenting on the style, not the substance, of DeSantis’ performance.
Both she and Wilson noted that we tend to forgive people for pausing on missteps when speaking simultaneously. “I have a lot of uhs and ahs and elidations and all kinds of little vocal tics. Everybody does it,” Wilson admitted.
With the exception of DeSantis’ annual state of the state addresses at joint sessions of the Legislative Assembly, the governor rarely speaks to his non-fans. Even at press conferences, his words elicit cheers and applause from people who are obviously devoted to him. Sometimes there are also questions from the press.
The news media, in fact, is a frequent target for DeSantis barbs. Other frequent targets include gay and transgender people, “woke” corporations, and universities teaching “zombie studies.”
“We refuse to bow down to Lord Fauci,” DeSantis told the Turning Point crowd, referring to the head of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Anthony Fauci, whose governor fiercely attacked prescriptions to fight against the COVD pandemic.
Last week, a DeSantis campaign sender went so far as to call his opponents “the enemy within.”
“That enemy is the radical, awakened vigilante mob that will roll anything and anyone in its path. Their blatant attacks on the American way of life are clear and intensifying: stifling dissent, public shaming, endemic violence and a perverted version of history“said the sender (emphasis in original.)
“A group that will literally tear down monuments and buildings but – perhaps in an even more sinister way – will tear down the American spirit itself. They are attacking family unity, parental rights, to traditional moral values, church and evidence-based education,” he continued.
Asked about the governor’s approach, Democratic political consultant Kevin Cate (he works for Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the party’s gubernatorial primary this year) said:
“The only style he has is playing the victim and whining. He channels rage and oppression like no governor before him has. And that resonates with a certain demographic of people who have the impression that the world is changing faster than them and that scares them and therefore it scares DeSantis.
Cate sees no evidence of appeal to the Democrats.
“The whole formula is to piss off as many Fox News viewers as possible. He wants to act as pissed off and aggrieved as them,” he said.
“Net politically positive”
“It’s just a purely amateurish psychological diagnosis: we know he’s a guy who’s a middle-class kid from Dunedin (from Pinellas County). He had a lot of hustle and enough intellectual power to get in at Harvard and Yale. Awesome,” Wilson said.
(Jacksonville-born DeSantis describes himself on his website as “a Florida native with blue-collar roots.”)
“But, like a lot of people who come from that middle-class background and go to Harvard and Yale, they’re kind of in awe of where they’re from and where most of their classmates are from. economically,” Wilson continued.
“It can be a definite political positive for him that he can reflect where he comes from versus the outright elitism that many political figures express,” he said.
DeSantis isn’t the only Florida governor to display verbal eccentricities. The late Democrat Lawton Chiles inspired head-scratching when he said during a debate with Jeb Bush in 1994, “The old he-coon walks just before the light of day.”
C-SPAN’s take was, “Chiles implied he would take a win from behind, which he did.”
Chiles and the late Republican Governor Claude Kirk, Jr. belonged to a generation “when there was still a set in Florida of distinct regional accents and cadences. Lawton has that kind of Southern musical and lyrical vocal presentation. It’s on now,” Wilson said.
“There’s a kind of working-class affectation that’s highly valued by Republican candidates today that I think is obviously wrong,” he continued.
“And I know for a fact that when Ron DeSantis sits down with major donors who are going to write a check for $100,000, he speaks in the language of meritocracy and the world of Harvard and Yale graduates. When he talks to Fox audiences, it’s a bit more yee-haw.
The question is how well it will work for a national audience.
More than two years from 2024, polls suggest DeSantis could perform well in a head-to-head game against Donald Trump, but both could have issues against Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris, despite low numbers from Biden now.
Says Wilson: “He sometimes comes across as a strange cat. We’ll see how that translates as his presidential campaign unfolds, as voters will forgive a candidate a lot but they won’t forgive fakes and they won’t forgive weird after a certain point.