Noting both his rigid demeanor and his deliberate avoidance of the nonpartisan press, the reporters covering DeSantis have gathered these behavioral cues to sew the candidate a straitjacketed image, portraying him as a locked up, frozen and vengeful character whose veins pump bile, not blood. He’s now in a box — likely for his entire 2024 campaign — that will be difficult to break out of, even for the most talented escape artist.
Like many press portraits, this one may not be completely fair. There could be a charming, easy-going lad hibernating under all that permafrost, a Republican Mister Rogers who wants to be your friend and neighbor. But reporters must rely on what they’ve seen and heard during his stint in Congress and over the four years he’s occupied the Florida governorship. He looks and acts like the guy who would confiscate the ball kicked accidentally onto his lawn by kids playing on the sidewalk. Aloof and distant, as if nursing some eternal grudge, DeSantis seems as tightly wound as a fishing reel and a better candidate for residence on a desert island than the White House.
DeSantis isn’t the only presidential candidate reduced to an unflattering stereotype. Richard Nixon was quickly pegged by the press as slippery. Lyndon Johnson as scheming. Bill Clinton, phony. George W. Bush, stupid. It may be no consolation to DeSantis that the press has reduced him to a political mummy, wrapped tight in the white of his own hang-ups, but that’s the way political journalism works: The candidate makes a face and the press describes it. [Continue reading…]