Despite former President Donald Trump’s many attacks against him, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has largely avoided returning fire. This week, however, DeSantis made it clear he knows where Trump’s weaknesses are and that he’s not afraid to point them out.
During an interview this week with Piers Morgan, DeSantis cited his COVID-19 record to contrast himself with the former president. He pointed out that it was Trump who initially encouraged the nationwide lockdowns and refused to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci despite having the authority to do so.
“The approach to COVID was different,” DeSantis said. “I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage.”
DeSantis went on to contrast his leadership style with Trump’s, saying he only surrounds himself with people who “share our agenda. … You bring your own agenda in, you’re gone.”
Both of these points are spot on. The most effective criticism of Trump’s presidency will be that he failed to identify people and policies that undermined his agenda. The pandemic is the best example of this. Trump should never have allowed himself to be pressured into supporting nationwide lockdowns or mask-wearing. Sure, there were many, many people who accepted these temporary restrictions out of either ignorance or goodwill, including me. But leaders are supposed to lead, and Trump should have had the foresight to recognize the massive abuses of power that would follow from giving scientific bureaucrats too much authority over our everyday lives.
DeSantis had that foresight. And he also had the courage to do something about it. While the rest of the country stayed in lockdown, DeSantis defied Fauci and the rest and reopened his state — and later banned mask and vaccine mandates.
It will be very difficult for Trump to combat DeSantis’s record on this because any attempt to do so will expose Trump’s own failings. DeSantis knows that — all he has to do is sit back and wait.