Florida Governor and GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis knows well one of the oldest unwritten rules of politics: “Never answer the question that is asked of you. Answer the question that you wish had been asked of you,” as the famous (and controversial) Defense Secretary Robert McNamara once said.
So when Fox News anchor Trey Gowdy asks DeSantis about how he would handle the war between U.S. rival Russia and U.S. ally Ukraine — on Day One of a DeSantis presidency — the GOP candidate answered a different question than what he was asked.
DeSantis’s answer reveals he wanted this question instead: What do you think of all the “woke” BS that has destroyed the military you once proudly served in?
GOWDY: If you're president, how would you address the war in Ukraine?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 25, 2023
DESANTIS: First, I think what we need to do as a veteran is recognize that our military has become politicized. You talk about gender ideology … pic.twitter.com/xv5jqTYksA
Pretending to hear that much different question, DeSantis opts to punt on the messy Ukraine-Russia problem, which divides the Republican base, and instead slams the U.S. military over its alleged concerns with “gender ideology” and “climate” — issues about which the Republican base is more predictably dismissive.
“First, I think what we need to do as a veteran is recognize that our military has become politicized,” DeSantis says. “You talk about gender ideology, you talk about things like global warming that they’re somehow concerned (sic) and that’s not the military I served in.”
DeSantis goes on to say that he’d fix recruiting and asserts that “people don’t want to join a woke military.”
When DeSantis eventually gets to the Ukraine topic, which he refers to as “what’s going on over in Eastern Europe,” the Governor says he’d like to see a “settlement of this.”
Saying the future is “completely unknowable,” DeSantis says he would not want to see “our troops get enmeshed in a war in Russia or Ukraine” — thereby declaring he agrees with everyone else on both sides of the aisle.
One snarky commenter summed up DeSantis’s “one-note” strategy as “Well, you start by woke, and woke and woke, then realize that woke is the woke.”
The appeal seems limited, since other GOP candidates also rage against the “woke” while maintaining stances on other issues, such as ongoing wars.