DeSantis Lets Death Spread While Using Kids as Props
His idea of being a champion of freedom involves hawking merchandise and letting the virus spread.
When Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reelection campaign began hawking “Don’t Fauci My Florida” t-shirts in July, the state had reported 38,834 COVID-19 fatalities.
The death count had risen to 68,846 this week, when the campaign began selling golf balls two at a time for $19.95 in a box that says “FLORIDA’S GOVERNOR HAS A PAIR.”
“@RonDeSantisFL had the courage to stand his ground and fortify Florida as the model of freedom,” an accompanying tweet reads. “Now, we’ve got the golf balls to back it up.”
After an additional 30,002 deaths, the campaign was telling us that DeSantis had been mucho macho in opposing proven mitigation measures that could have saved many lives.
“HOLD THE LINE,” the box also says.
That is an anti-mandate battle cry originating with the Chicago Police Union and now heard across the country. Never mind that nearly five times as many cops have been killed by the virus than by bullets during the course of the pandemic.
The introduction of the golf balls coincided with the special session of the legislature that DeSantis called this week to pass anti-mandate legislation. He held a ceremonial bill signing on Thursday in the town of Brandon. A reporter asked him if the choice of venue had anything to do with what has become the anti-Biden battle cry.
“I think that Brandon, Florida is a great American city,” DeSantis replied to cheers and cries of “Lets Go, Brandon!”
DeSantis demonstrated that his notion of being a mucho macho champion of freedom includes inviting an eight-year-old to the event and then calling her to the podium to serve as a political prop.
“Tell your story,” DeSantis instructed her. “Tell them who you are and why you’re here.”
“Hi, I’m Fiona Lashells,” the girl said.
“Tell them what grade you're in,” DeSantis urged her.
“I’m in second grade,” she replied.
“And when you and I met, what did you tell me about going to school?” he continued.
Fiona paused and looked questioningly over at her mother, who is known to drive an SUV with a sign reading ”My Hero Calls Me Mom.” A steadied Fiona turned back to the crowd.
“I wasn’t going to school because I was getting suspended for not wearing a mask,” she reported.
A sympathetic rumble came from the crowd and somebody called out, “We love you. We love you.”
“Tell them about the mask and what you didn’t like about it,” DeSantis went on.
“I didn’t like the mask because you have germs on your hands and then you touch it and you put it on your face and you breathe in all those germs,” she said.
Somebody else called out, “Right, good girl.” Here was where an adult should have told her that nobody likes to wear a mask, but even children must join everybody in doing what we can to combat the deadly virus. An adult would note that COVID is spread on droplets that annoying face coverings can stop.
But there was only DeSantis, whose perpetually eclipsing priority is DeSantis.
“Now, since you've started to tell your story, they haven’t made you wear a mask lately, right?” he inquired.
“Um, yes,” Fiona said.
“Does that make you happy?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
DeSantis turned to the crowd.
“So, she got things done!” he exclaimed to cheers.
“Hey, girl, you’re smarter than half the country,” a man called out.
The school board where she resides, Palm Beach County, had indeed lifted its mask mandate on Nov.15, but only because it had previously agreed to do so when new COVID-19 cases declined to a certain level. The officials had not done so in response to Fiona’s refusal. They also had not relented because DeSantis had for months derided the Palm Beach County Board as “anti-science” and threatened to withdraw its funding. But those tactics had worked elsewhere.
That included Brandon. The encompassing Hillsborough County School Board had been so disturbed by rising COVID cases at the start of the year that it had moved to impose a mask mandate, only to back off in the face of DeSantis’ bullying.
As he now enlisted a little girl into perpetuating a compounded fiction, DeSantis was demonstrating that his approach was not so much “HOLD THAT LINE” as “HOLD THAT LIE.”
And to add a supposedly scientific veneer to the lie, DeSantis called Florida’s new surgeon general to the podium. He began by saying that the present message from federal officials is “your body belongs to Dr. Fauci.”
“He gets to decide what you do with your body, what you put on your face, what your kids get to do,” Ladapo said. “It is spiritual warfare. It’s completely wrong.”
He proceeded to say that the “wonderful” new legislation was leading Florida “back to the data.”
“This relentless campaign to keep children in this country in masks,” he said. “There is no data that shows an improvement of health with these mask mandates for children. Zip. There’s nothing. And it should stop.”
He said the same was true with the vaccine when it comes to children.
Never mind that there have been a host of peer viewed studies that found the use of masks by children significantly reduces the spread of the virus. And clinical trials have indicated that the vaccines will be as effective and safe with children as they are with adults. Ladapo has questioned the safety of the jab for adults, so he can be expected to do the same when it comes to children.
Ladapo seemed nearly as big a hit as Fiona. The doctor and the child looked on as DeSantis sat down to sign the bills. He used blue Sharpies where his liege Donald Trump famously favored black. He thereby endeavors to make himself enough like Trump to win MAGA hearts, but different enough not to scare others away.
“You should have one,” DeSantis said as he handed Fiona a Sharpie as a memento of a day she was used to his political advantage.
The girl cannot be blamed for giving no thought to the thousands of deaths that could have been prevented with the very mask and vaccine mandates that were now being sidelined with a few strokes of a blue Sharpie. But there should be no forgiving the likes of DeSantis and Ladapo, a pair of another kind.