Trump attacks DeSantis over Disney feud

That makes three rather odd choices for the populists at Team Trump in the past week, and this one might be the oddest of all. First Donald Trump offered some praise for Gavin Newsom while the California governor made a fool of himself trying to talk his state’s ex-pats into returning to Newsom’s version of “freedom.” Next, Don Junior scolded conservatives over their grassroots boycott on Anheuser-Busch and the risk it posed to A-B’s donor support of the RNC.

Now, Trump himself is back to attacking DeSantis for standing up to Disney, calling it a “political stunt” that would prompt Bob Iger to sell “the whole thing” off. 

“DeSanctus is being absolutely destroyed by Disney. His original P.R. plan fizzled, so now he’s going back with a new one in order to save face,” Trump said on Truth Social, referring to the Florida governor by a nickname.

Trump speculated that “Disney’s next move will be the announcement that no more money will be invested in Florida because of the Governor. In fact, they could even announce a slow withdrawal or sale of certain properties, or the whole thing. Watch! That would be a killer.”

There is certainly room to debate how this feud started. Disney decided to take part in the debate over the Parental Rights in Education Act and leverage its economic power in Florida to change policy — economic power that comes in part from a sweetheart corporatist tax-district structure that the state set up sixty years ago. DeSantis played hardball by wresting back control over Reedy Creek, and again, that’s open to criticism as well for using government power to punish political opposition.

What happened this month, however, forced the legislature to act. Disney manipulated the outgoing board to assign all its power to Disney, in essence creating an autonomous zone with Disney the sovereign, including over tax assessments and other policies. It created an almost-literal Mickey Mouse CHAZ and would have allowed Disney unfettered dominion over public policy in Reedy Creek. It was a stupidly provocative act, so much so that it included a silly covenant based on how long the British royal line would last.

Rather than wait for this to go through the courts, DeSantis and the state legislature will instead change the statutes to put an end to the Mickey Mouse CHAZ more directly. Regardless of how this feud got started, Disney’s attempt to wrest sovereignty away from “we the people” is the apotheosis of everything that populists are supposed to despise, not cheer.

So why is the GOP’s Populist in Chief cheering Disney?

According to Open Secrets, about half of the Walt Disney Co’s $20 million in contributions in 2020 went to America First Action, a Trump-aligned PAC. For comparison, Joe Biden’s campaign got $1.285M in the same cycle.

There’s nothing wrong with good fundraising, of course. However, this context makes it appear that Trump is choosing big corporate donors over conservo-populist principles.

But let’s put that aspect aside for the moment and look at the strategy involved. There is nothing coherent about running for the GOP presidential nomination on a populist, anti-establishment message and then siding with Disney, Anheuser-Busch, and Gavin frickin’ Newsom all in the same week. This looks more like a personal grudge meaning more to Trump than policy or even messaging. It’s a chaos approach, which might have been appealing in 2015-16 to set Trump apart from the usual Establishment figures. Trump, however, has already been president and wants to get re-elected to complete his work — so why side with the woke Establishment figures? Just to pwn “DeSanctus”?

Republicans will have to choose whether they want four more years of personal-grudge chaos or a candidate that can offer an effective pushback on their issues. Trump is making that choice excruciatingly acute over the past few days.
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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