Beware of Straw Men

My morning paper brought another column hammering Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Just another in the constant drumbeat of media criticism of the Floridian. Anytime I look at my Smartnews app, there is at least one and usually several negative DeSantis articles. Froma Harrop’s ad hominem attack today was especially fact-free.To her, Gov. DeSantis is only a grunting “new Donald Trump.” “DeSantis, sadly, was born without a sense of humor.” In short, she found no redeeming features in the DeSantis makeup.

It got me thinking that the Governor is a regular feature on the right of center media but rarely seen left of center. This difference allows the left to paint an unflattering portrait. “Almost every picture of him shows a scowling face with mouth open. There is no charm to smooth over the meanness,” claims Harrop:

Picturing DeSantis

Yet, while accessible to Floridians and many on the right, Desantis makes little effort to court the mainstream media. This absence leaves those receiving news from these outlets with an almost grotesque view of him. Is this a fatal oversight for someone with the highest aspirations or a clever strategy?

Consider Ukrainian President Zelensky. Before the war, Russia and others pictured the President as a corrupt, lightweight ex-comedian. This characterization was echoed in the U.S. by the far-right and libertarians. A whiner always asking for arms for a military Russia could overrun in a day.

Under Zelensky, the Ukrainian military evolved into a solid war machine, able to effectively use the arms it had. The army and the President trusted each other to do the job. Many NATO members contributed to training and sending weapons to Ukraine after the 2014 Russian invasion. The Russian-backed separatists in the east fought to a standstill. 

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