Why Ron DeSantis’ last press conference became so controversial
The typical governors’ press conference doesn’t generate national headlines, but Governor Ron DeSantis’ event in his home state of Florida yesterday wasn’t exactly typical. As NBC News reported, the trouble started before the Republican even appeared on the microphone.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asked students to remove their masks during an indoor event on Wednesday, saying they were “not doing anything.” DeSantis, a Republican who has been a vocal critic of masks and vaccination mandates throughout the coronavirus pandemic, berated students who stood behind a desk at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he announced a funding for cybersecurity education, according to video provided by NBC affiliate WFLA.
“You don’t have to wear these masks”, a visibly annoyed DeSantis noted as he approached the podium. “I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, and we have to stop with this Covid theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but it’s ridiculous.
By all appearances, the Republican, whose condition is not out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic, didn’t bother to ask if any of the kids he was scolding had symptoms of Covid-19, a compromised immune system or a vulnerable loved one. those at home. On the contrary, the governor seemed mainly concerned with the optics of his press conference.
It was a photo shoot, and DeSantis didn’t want to be seen with high school kids shielding themselves. He also didn’t want to leave it up to children and their families to make decisions about masks on their own; the Floridian seemed rather eager to bully the kids into making the choice that would be best for him on camera.
“DeSantis likes to brag that Florida is ‘the freest state in the United States,’ especially when it comes to personal choice of masks,” wrote the editorial board of the Miami Herald. “Local governments and schools have been prohibited from requiring them. But it seems freedom doesn’t apply to those who, despite the CDC’s relaxed mask advice, are still concerned about COVID. Unlike anti-masks, masks do not endanger the health of others. So let them be, Governor. Save your anti-mask and anti-vaccine rants for FOX News. The only one who looks ridiculous is you.
Worse, DeSantis also took time off at the same event think about the crisis in Ukraine and his impressions of the Ukrainians fighting the Russian invaders.
“A lot of other places in the world, they fold the minute there’s any kind of adversity,” the governor said. “I mean, could you imagine if [Russian forces] went to France, would they do anything to fight? Probably not.”
First, France, a member of NATO, has one of the most advanced armies in Europe and one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world. The Florida governor may not be impressed with France’s security capabilities, but the idea that the Parisians would simply fall back if Russian forces invaded is bonkers.
Second, less than a week ago, DeSantis denigrated two of America’s closest allies, Australia and Canada, falsely accusing them of imposing “authoritarian rule” on their citizens. Five days later, he also unnecessarily and baselessly insulted our allies in France.
I realize that Donald Trump’s model of international affairs is based in part on alienation from major US international partners. But it’s still absurd to see his sidekick in Florida following the example of the ousted former president.