There are three things in America going downhill fast. The first is deadly serious, and that’s the weather. August starts next week, and indications are that the extreme heat will continue, and hurricane season should ramp up. Mother Nature is not happy with our tepid response to climate change.
The other is Twitter, which is just falling apart at the seams. Ad sales have plummeted, Meta’s Threads so far isn’t a critical threat, but it’s there, and Monday saw the release of TikTok’s new feature that allows users to add text posts. And in what seems like a desperate attempt to stay relevant, Elon Musk officially changed the company’s iconic bird logo to an “X” on Monday as part of a rebrand.
Call me crazy, but in all my years in marketing, especially with one erstwhile retailer, Sears, which seemingly rebranded every year, trying to change your image is always fraught with more cons than pros. Is “X” a signal that Musk is trying to “X” out the social platform? The “X” for a kiss, as in kiss it goodbye? Is it “X” marks the spot of something that isn’t hot?
It might be scorching hot in Florida, but its governor and current Republican presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis, is lukewarm. DeSantis is a combination of a natural disaster and a failing brand. Coincidentally, his campaign launch fell apart on the falling-apart Twitter, a.k.a. X. It was as if he was signaling, I’m jumping on a sinking ship to learn what it’s like to be on a sinking ship.
He also was in a car crash on Tuesday. I don't wish anyone bad, and reports are he's OK. But from the launch crash to his cash crash to his staff crash and his ad crash, DeSantis is surely this summer's biggest disaster.
He’s hemorrhaging campaign funds, which is a sure sign of a lack of discipline. Ostensibly, DeSantis fancies the fancy life like Justice Clarence Thomas, with private jets, Four Seasons stays, and lavish dinners in the Hamptons.
Ooh la la, hoity-toity, and swinging from a big branch (as my grandfather used to say). Ron is spending wildly and frivolously like Kevin Costner, whose family, according to his estranged wife, had $11,921,543.89 in expenses last year, while the actor’s net income in 2022 was just over $7.5 million. That’s about the rate that DeSantis is going.
DeSantis is now cutting back, which means chopping off people’s livelihoods instead of forgoing the lavish life. It was announced that he laid off one-third of his staff. The Washington Post late last week said DeSantis “Is laying off staff and trying to stem dropping poll numbers as it burns through cash, while at the same time spending more than most of his rivals on an expensive private plane and other travel costs.”
With DeSantis, it is never about the people or for the people or helping the people. It’s all about what makes Ron look like he’s “never backing down” (that’s his nonsensical campaign motto) or, more pointedly, what makes Ron look like a meanie.
He thought he was cute when he went after Disney and all of the state’s residents who are employees, and that of course is backfiring royally. In May, Disney dropped plans to build a new $1 billion office development in Florida that would have created more than 2,000 jobs. While Mickey and Minnie snicker, DeSantis snarls.
Now the meanie that is DeSantis last week announced plans that he is directing his administration to launch an inquiry into Bud Light’s parent company, AB InBev, because of its marketing efforts with transgender social media star Dylan Mulvaney. “All options are on the table,” he tweeted (or did he “X”?). What legal right Florida has to challenge a multinational corporation’s actions is unclear.
The conservative governor is again trying to have the state government exert pressure on a business because it supports LGBTQ+ rights. As we pointed out in previous coverage, “DeSantis is currently embroiled in two lawsuits with the Walt Disney Company after he engaged in acts of revenge for the entertainment giant’s criticism of his draconian 'don’t say gay' law, which prevents discussion in schools about LGBTQ+ people through high school graduation.``
DeSantis thinks he’s being clever by taking on another corporate behemoth. I’m sure AB InBev is ready to roll out the legal barrels to roll over the unabashed opportunist that is DeSantis. Now, are cranky transphobes who shoot at Bud Light cans going to suddenly back DeSantis because he has the disdained beer brand in his crosshairs? You would think that they’d see right through it, right? However, maybe I’m wrong since this might be a case — pun intended — of stupid is as stupid does.
And speaking of disdain, DeSantis has clearly shown his cruelty toward the LGBTQ+ community, so it boggles the mind as to why he thinks he needs to keep piling on. For DeSantis, going after Mulvaney is like making toast. So what? We know he burns with rage at transgender kids and adults.
He is also an overt homophobe, which raises the question of why he denied he had any part in a bizarre hodgepodge of an ad that froths evil and confusion? It seethes with hatred toward the LGBTQ+ community and among other things calls DeSantis “Top Gov” in a "has nothing to do with the theme of this ad" play on Top Gun (WTF?).
The ad should have just ended with laser beams shooting out of DeSantis's eyes. Why? Because the ad is, I guess, supposed to make DeSantis have super powers like a cyclops in X-Men (A nod to Musk and his "X"?). According to the definition of cyclops vision, "No one could see the Cyclops's eyes directly, because if they saw him, his eyes immediately shot lasers." As a gay man, that is exactly what would happen to me if I dared look into DeSantis's eyes.
The bread crumbs leading back to the people behind the ad — the DeSantis campaign — were so easy to follow. Can we just stop here for a second? If DeSantis is laying off anyone, it should be the mastermind behind this atrocity of garbage that pretends to be an ad. This person has major, major issues.
Why did DeSantis feel the need to release such an ad in the first place? By now, everyone knows how much he hates us, so what good was spending money on an ad that contained information that offered nothing new?
Except, here’s a surprise. It did reveal something new! The ad is a perfect metaphor for the DeSantis campaign. It’s pointless, it’s hateful, it’s wacky, it makes no sense, lacks any depth or strategy, and is utterly nauseating. It perfectly sums up Ron DeSantis and his “Never Back Down” campaign.
And you know what the worst part of that ad was for him? In his effort to trash trans, gut gays, and lash lesbians, he’s loathingly trying to weasel himself into the MAGA crowd. But the ad takes direct aim at Trump. DeSantis apparently missed this message from Trump: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" Compared to that, Trump letting a trans woman into the Miss Universe pageant is ho-hum.
DeSantis wreaking havoc on the campaign trail is a reproduction of the havoc he’s wreaked on Florida. It’s no longer a state that exists in a democracy called the United States. Florida is now unwelcoming, unnecessarily litigious, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-Jewish, anti-Black, and anti-child. In a nutshell, Florida is disorganized, flailing and burning with hate. Just like DeSantis, who is like an overwhelming, never-ending heat wave — just stop already!
John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate.
Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.