Ron DeSantis: Overrated

DeSantis, Walker, Pawlenty, Jebthey all share the curse of an early constituency of would-be king-makers on the one hand and negative stage presence on the other. DeSantis has the charisma of a pair of cargo shorts. Journalists sizing him up note that he is anti-social (in Congress, he reportedly left his earbuds in to avoid casual conversation) and sartorially challenged (ill-fitting suits; he wore what looked like white go-go boots to a hurricane aftermath visit)—but those are, obviously, traits he has in common with the former president.

What makes Trump uniquely appealing to the GOP base is that his personal awkwardness and ungainly physical presence come wrapped in a genuine, pathological disregard for norms on every level, as well as a supreme, entirely unearned confidence. DeSantis, by contrast, suffers from the average politicians’ desire to conform to expectations—even if those expectations are “be like Trump.” He’s a try-hardand nothing, absolutely nothing, activates Trump’s predatory instincts like a thirsty rival.

Give DeSantis some credit: He managed to take Trump out of his nickname comfort zone. After several months of false starts, it looked like Trump was maybe losing his edge. (“Ron DeSanctimonous”? Please.) But in response to this most recent wave of favorable DeSantis coverage Trump has produced two typically genius sobriquetsthe kind of two-word millstones that have sunk every Trump competitor so far: “Tiny D” (DeSantis is 5’9”) and, apparently in private conversation only, “Meatball Ron.” A+, no notes.