Members Only | September 29, 2022 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

The unbearable sexism of the press covering Ron DeSantis more than Gretchen Whitmer

DeSantis has become the most overrated Republican politician since, at least, Chris Christie. And Whitmer may be the most underrated.

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You’ll never find anyone who loves you the way the Washington press corps loves the idea of Ron DeSantis usurping Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024.

Only the sweet relief of medical coma could save you from all the stories about the Florida governor’s attempts to claim the former president’s anointment as Republican God-Emperor.

The search “DeSantis president” elicits 69 million Google results, compared to around 18 million for “DeSantis governor.”

You’d think that, with a media infatuation like this, the Republicans’ great white hope would be cruising to reelection with a double-lead over his chump opponent.

A governor of Florida doesn’t go kidnapping dozens of asylum seekers in Texas to “deport” them to Massachusetts if he feels confident about his life choices. 

Instead, he’s in a somewhat bruising race against a former governor of the state, even as he gallivants around the country trying to play the role of benevolent despot by campaigning for Republican wannabees like JD Vance and actual insurrectionist Doug Mastriano.

Despite this posturing and big GOP donors circling around him like he’s the EpiPen that could save the party from the nation’s allergic reaction to the 45th president, you can smell DeSantis’ flopsweat rising faster than the oceans around Florida. 

A governor of Florida doesn’t go kidnapping dozens of asylum seekers in Texas to “deport” them to Massachusetts if he feels confident about his life choices. 

He’s obviously jealous of the way Republicans have rushed to defend Trump after the raid of Mar-a-Lago. So he’s seeking legal peril of his own to gain the semi-fascist affections of his party. 

But this crime against humanity-sized distraction is probably also aimed at keeping headlines away from his state’s skyrocketing energy bills along with the one issue that will likely end up defining the 2022 elections.

Earlier this year, DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban like Lindsey Graham has introduced in the US Senate. The bill has no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the patient, and was opposed by 60 percent of Floridians, according to one poll.

The vast majority of DeSantis’ constituents are pro-choice and likely hate the ban because of its excessive cruelty and limitations on freedom. And the GOP base, the white evangelicals he’s trying impress with his recreational human trafficking, likely despise it because it still allows “nearly all” abortions, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’ lead in the polls is under 6 percent, which is nothing compared to the more than 20 percent lead in the polls registered by the presidential aspirant he’s most often compared to – California Governor Gavin Newsom.

It’s also less than half the dominating poll lead of an incumbent of a swing state governor who continues to demonstrate the actual political skill the national press keeps hoping to see from DeSantis. 

Yet the media doesn’t seem to notice – probably because this particular governor is a woman. 

Gretchen Whitmer is everything Ron DeSantis pretends to be – and more.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer crushed her opponent in 2018, winning by more than 400,000 votes, a nearly 10 percent lead, as the poser from Jacksonville slipped by a mere 32,463 votes, an 0.4 percent lead.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer attracted an absolute clown as her opponent in 2022. 

Tudor Dixon is a failed B-movie actress handpicked by the DeVos family to continue their war on public education and make Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin seem like a moderate by insisting on an abortion ban with “no exceptions” because, to her, forcing raped kids to give birth is “healing” both for the child – and the rapist.

Dixon has taken to making jokes about a kidnapping conspiracy that targeted Whitmer, resulting in multiple convictions, because – honestly – that’s all she’s got, as her poll numbers keep getting worse.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer champions her constituents’ reproductive rights – leading the effort to overturn a 1931 law that would ban abortion in the aftermath of the disastrous Dobbs decision.

Unlike DeSantis, Whitmer hasn’t gone to war with one of her state’s largest employers. 

While the governor of the Disney State has targeted House of the Mouse for speaking out against his completely unnecessary “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the governor of the Auto State has worked hand-in-hand with the Biden administration as it’s signed into law more than half a trillion dollars in infrastructure investments, including billions and billions for electric vehicles, the batteries that fuel them and the semiconductors that run them. 

Whitmer clearly sees politics as the “art of the possible” – problem-solving to achieve actual goals. DeSantis sees politics as “war” – like Andrew Breitbart and Donald Trump before him. 

A human troll doll, he judges success by how upset he makes liberals – how “owned” they are by his stunts. And he’d rather ship migrants around like cattle than accept either their basic human dignity or answer the pleas of employers in his state for more workers.

The press obviously loves the drama, his slight rebranding of boring reactionary politics and – I guess – his stuffed Men’s Wearhouse suit. 

Thus they ignore or seek to soften the shrillness of this Craft Beer Trump’s policies, affect and voice. They pretend he’d survive a primary campaign with Trump without being reduced to a sniveling  “Lil’ Marco” or an unctuous “Lyin’ Ted.”

DeSantis has become the most overrated Republican politician since, at least, Chris Christie. And Whitmer may be the most underrated.

There are fewer than 3 million search results for “Whitmer president,” though she’s proven she can govern and deliver a state that will, unlike Florida, be among the handful that will decide the 2024 election. And she’s deft, likable and the one elected official who has done the most to defend her constituents’ bodily autonomy, an issue that will likely play a starring role in any 2024 campaign.

DeSantis is lucky the media is so manifestly and latently sexist. 

And frankly – given the press corps’ love for casting doubt on whether he will run again in 2024 – so is Joe Biden.

Jason Sattler, better known as LOLGOP on Twitter, is writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was a columnist and member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors from 2017-2021.

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