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What DeSantis Means When He Says He’s ‘Moved On’ From Disney Fight

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The Florida Republican governor’s unnecessary conflict with Disney hasn’t exactly benefited him politically. While DeSantis believed his presidential campaign would benefit if he made fights against “woke” institutions a centerpiece of his political identity, GOP voters have other priorities.

The governor’s culture war skirmish has cost his home state dearly, made him the target of intra-party criticisms, and cost his home state dearly.

The Floridian is unable to even defend his own strategies. DeSantis denied punishing Disney even though that is exactly what happened when host Megyn Kelly questioned him last month about why Disney couldn’t just disagree with him without being penalized.

In light of this, DeSantis appeared on CNBC this week and pretended that the fight he started is over. The Miami-based NBC affiliate reported:

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts should drop a federal lawsuit that claims retaliation by the state and accept changes to a special district that long benefited the theme-park giant. In a CNBC interview focused on the economy, the Republican presidential candidate said the state has “basically moved on” from issues surrounding the changes to the former Reedy Creek Improvement District.

This week, I’ve heard some claims that the governor’s speech demonstrated his desire to cave in to pressure, but I don’t think that’s completely accurate.

DeSantis attempted to underscore his wish for Disney to dismiss its lawsuit during the CNBC interview. If the two spoke, the governor responded, “They’re suing the state of Florida,” when asked what he would say to Disney CEO Bob Iger. That lawsuit will be lost by them. Therefore, I would advise you to abandon the lawsuit.

For those who are just joining us, a quick recap: Last year, the governor approved a plan known as the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, which Disney, a major player in the Sunshine State, eventually denounced in an insignificant press release.

In a typical political setting, the governor might have maintained his stance and communicated his disapproval of the corporation, at which time the important actors would have gone on. However, politics in DeSantis Land are everything but typical.

The far-right governor responded to the minor and insignificant criticism by picking a fight with Disney that lasted for a long time and had real repercussions for local governance.

This was done partly to punish the corporate giant for defying him in public and partly to signal to others that he would retaliate against anyone who questioned his position.

While the Republican expressed great confidence this week that the corporate giant is “going to lose” the case, there are reasons to believe otherwise, thanks in part to DeSantis’ own carelessness and inability to think a few steps ahead. Disney filed a lawsuit challenging DeSantis’ willingness to use state government as a tool of political retaliation.

The unpleasantness is now behind him, and he wants to leave the punitive actions he’s already taken in place.

DeSantis wasn’t backing down when he told CNBC that he and his team had “basically moved on” from their battle with Florida’s largest employer; rather, he was seeking to persuade Disney to drop a lawsuit that would very well prevail.

This wasn’t a surrender; rather, it showed the governor’s concern that his government may lose a crucial lawsuit, handing him another crucial setback at a bad time.

In effect, the struggling GOP candidate has publicly delivered a curious message to the company: “Now that I’ve finished hitting you, the important thing is that you stop trying to hit me back.”

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