Villager John Stema asked an interesting question in a recent letter to the editor that we’ve also been pondering: Where is our governor?
It seems that since the Nov. 3 election, Gov. Ron DeSantis has disappeared. That’s particularly odd since the first-term governor has never met a camera he didn’t love.
You will probably recall that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis has held almost daily press briefings – too many at times – where he’s told us how well things were going despite the rising number of Coronavirus cases across Florida.
The governor even made several stops in The Villages and appeared at UF Health The Villages Hospital to tout the handling of the pandemic in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown – despite either not knowing about or caring about ongoing issues like many residents ignoring guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He obviously just took the fluff he was told by The Villages’ top political hack and recited it like he owned it – probably because it came with the promise of big bucks going toward his next campaign (more on that later).
For those who are wondering, DeSantis hasn’t held a news conference since the day after the General Election, when he blasted the mainstream media for calling races in some states but not others and also spent plenty of time praising Florida’s handling of vote counting. He didn’t take questions after that press conference but promised to come back soon and do so – something he didn’t do.
DeSantis did the same thing earlier this week in Tallahassee when he made a now-rare appearance in the Florida Senate to watch new lawmakers and officers take their oaths of office. A media outlet attempted to interview him as he walked through the Capitol and he promised to speak with them later. He did not and even went so far as leave the chamber through a back exit.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 virus is out of control across the state. In fact, when DeSantis held his last live press conference on Nov. 4 – he appeared by video this past Thursday to outline the state’s COVID-19 vaccine plan, which was an easy way to avoid questions – there were 821,123 cumulative cases of COVID-19 reported across the state, along with 17,131 deaths and 49,889 people hospitalized. By Friday – just 16 days since DeSantis disappeared from the radar – those numbers had swelled to 923,418 overall cases, 18,110 deaths and 53,091 people hospitalized.
For those into math, that’s an increase of 102,295 positive results, 979 deaths and 3,202 people treated in hospitals across the Sunshine State. No wonder we haven’t heard DeSantis babbling about how well his COVID-19 reopening plan – the one annoyingly named “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” – is going these days.
We all know there are two reasons the governor has gone into hiding. The first one clearly revolves around the COVID-19 pandemic and the out-of-control numbers we’re seeing on a daily basis. He’s even gone so far as to consider eliminating the daily updates provided by the Florida Department of Health and limiting them to a weekly occurrence. So if you are one who believes DeSantis puts Floridians first when it comes to COVID-19, consider the facts and think again about his ostrich approach to solving problems – stick your head in the sand and just pretend there’s no problem.
Along those same lines, we find it quite disturbing that there was no sign of DeSantis last week when Tropical Storm Eta roared ashore twice. Florida governors are known for being quite visible when the Sunshine State is in the path of major storms or hurricanes, and DeSantis has done just that in the past. But this time around, Florida’s ostrich governor truly let down the 21-plus million residents he’s charged with representing and putting above all else.
Of course, the real reason DeSantis hasn’t stood in front of the media since the day after the election is that he doesn’t want to answer questions about President Trump, his refusal to concede to Joe Biden and his ongoing legal battle against several states. The governor knows that if he agrees to speak with the media in any way, he’ll be bombarded with questions about Trump, whom he’s clearly joined with at the hip.
Frankly, Trump also has disappeared from the public view, so it should come as no surprise that the politician who is known for riding his coattails has followed suit. He’s clearly taking his ques from the White House so when Trump tells him to jump, he’ll do what he’s done all along – ask when and how high.
For the record, we’re not criticizing DeSantis for his support of Trump, nor are we taking sides the in the recent presidential election. We just think it’s a shame and a real problem that when Floridians need their governor the most, he seems more concerned about making moves that will affect his political future – he obviously has his sights set on Washington, D.C. – than he is about putting them first and taking care of them in such a scary time.
We truly hope that DeSantis sees the light and starts acting like a governor again instead of a politician who is running scared. But given what we’ve seen over the past three weeks, we’re certainly not holding our breath.