Sorry, but our governor is acting as crazy as a Raid-sprayed roach

Gov. Ron DeSantis is depicted during a news conference in Merritt Island on July 30, 2020. Like other governors, his standing has declined during the COVID-19 crisis. Credit: Screenshot

Gov. Ron DeSantis is clearly suffering some kind of breakdown, poor fellow.

How else can you explain his bizarre behavior? If it’s not an emotional collapse then the only other possibility is that he is a sociopath who doesn’t give a good goddamn about the people of Florida.

And that couldn’t possibly be the case, right?

But there’s no denying the governor acts like he’s a few pumpkin pies short of a Thanksgiving dinner, refusing to admit that Donald Trump lost the election.

DeSantis has actually gone so far as to urge Republican-run state legislatures to ignore the popular will and give their electoral votes to Trump.

That alone makes Floridians wonder if there’s faulty wiring upstairs — that and the way he pretends the global pandemic is no big deal, even though it’s killing more than 1,000 Americans every day, even though Florida is one of the worst-affected states in the nation.

Florida’s COVID-19 numbers are shooting up like quackgrass after a good rain, with 7,783 positive cases reported on Wednesday alone. DeSantis’s response (if you can call it that) is to hole up in the mansion (still closed to the public), do nothing, and pretend it isn’t happening.

A cynical person, a person with no empathy for the addled, might point out that since the orange man in the White House will soon be spending a lot of time in his gilded Florida mansion, mouthing off, bullying other Republicans, holding super-spreader rallies, and otherwise complicating life for our cognitively fragile governor, DeSantis might think it prudent to suck up to him lest a couple of rage tweets destroy his chances of reelection in 2022.

If that isn’t enough to convince you DeSantis is crazy he’s hired an Uber driver named Kyle Lamb as his new COVID-19 “data analyst.”

Lamb, an hombre from the hinterlands of the Interwebs, proudly declares: “I’m not an ‘expert.’ I’m not a doctor, epidemiologist, virologist, or scientist.”

Refreshingly, albeit temporarily, honest! Lamb has no qualifications. He has no training. No college degree. He’s a failed Ohio State-obsessed sports blogger and conspiracy theorist who assures us that masks don’t work, the coronavirus is no worse than the good ol’ flu, and that maybe the whole thing is a “biowar” started by the sinister and inscrutable Chinese.

When Kyle Lamb’s Twitter feed isn’t celebrating the mask-free field invasion at Notre Dame when the Irish beat Clemson or claiming that “U.N. troops” were invading the fairgrounds in Delaware County, Ohio, it’s filled with fancy-looking graphs and charts which he insists prove that coronavirus is no big deal and Anthony Fauci is totally overrated.

His former colleagues in the Buckeye sports ecosystem call him “an amateur,” a “rank conspiracy theorist,” a “basement epidemiologist,” and an “internet weirdo,” who attracted a certain perplexed notice when he defended Ohio State’s combustible former assistant football coach Zach Smith, who beat up his pregnant wife.

Lamb assures us: “I have no qualms about being a ‘sports guy’ moonlighting as a COVID-19 analyst.”

He replaces Rebekah Jones, a scientist with two degrees in compiling and interpreting geographic and demographic information: what you might call a scientist, an “expert.”

You will recall the state of Florida fired her when she refused to massage the COVID-19 numbers to suit Ron DeSantis’ completely mendacious insistence that everything in Florida is fine! Great! Visit Disney!

My mother always told me not to pick on the intellectually disadvantaged or the mentally unstable, but DeSantis is acting as crazy as a Raid-sprayed roach.

In addition to pretending that the ’rona’s in the rear-view mirror, he wants to expand Florida’s deranged “Stand Your Ground” law so that if you happen to, say, shoot an anti-racism protester because you think she or he might break some shop windows or loot your Chick-fil-A franchise, or you accidentally on purpose run over some kid marching against police brutality who happens to step into what you see as your part of the public highway, you’ll be covered by new “anti-mob” legislation.

Our governor seems to think the destruction of property is far more serious than the destruction of human life. That’s insane, right?

Right?

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.