As we’ve seen all too often during natural disasters, national tragedies, and the like, though most sane-minded people are focused on helping the impacted people/areas to regroup, recover, and rebuild even stronger, there are always the obnoxious public figures/media types who insist on immediately making it all about politics and in some cases prematurely assigning blame.
Such was, unfortunately, the case during a Wednesday morning press conference in Florida at the Emergency Operations Center, where Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared alongside emergency management officials to discuss the state’s response to Hurricane Idalia so far and to advise residents what they should do to stay safe as the Category 3 storm closed in on the Sunshine State, with dangerously high storm surges predicted.
At one point during the briefing, a reporter brought up the issue of former President Donald Trump, who like DeSantis is a 2024 presidential candidate, and how Trump had – as of the time of that presser – not said anything at all to the residents of the state that he also calls home about the hurricane.
Instead of taking the bait, Gov. DeSantis immediately shut the reporter down, noting what his number one priorities were at that moment – which absolutely did not include exchanging verbal jabs with his political rival as a life-threatening hurricane was making landfall in their state:
“It’s not my concern. My concern is protecting the people of Florida, being ready to go and we’ve done that. And look, in Florida you just have to do this. I mean this is something we put a lot of time and effort into throughout the course of each year, knowing that there’s going to be time where you’re gonna have to activate it.”
DeSantis went on to talk about prior hurricanes in Florida and where his and his team’s focus would be in the coming days and weeks in the aftermath of Idalia’s devastation.
When asked about his thoughts on fmr. Pres. Trump, who is a resident of Florida, not commenting on #HurricaneIdalia, Gov. DeSantis says it’s “not my concern”:
“My concern is protecting the people of Florida” https://t.co/dk4JEHsGM2 pic.twitter.com/QqXMs33n0r
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 30, 2023
I mean imagine being that reporter and, even with knowing so many concerned residents in Florida were likely tuning in and looking for information and answers, thinking it was a smart idea to insert politics into the discussion – like an hour before Idalia officially hit, according to reports.
DeSantis’ answer reminded me a little bit of how he addressed the issue of communications with President Joe Biden prior to Hurricane Ian in September after rumors swirled that Biden had not contacted him:
“I’m happy to brief the President if he’s interested in hearing what we’re doing in Florida… You’ve got people’s lives at stake…no time for pettiness, we’ve gotta work together to make sure we’re doing the best job for them. So my phone line is open.” @RonDeSantisFL on Biden pic.twitter.com/d2FkngDq5J
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) September 27, 2022
As far as I can tell, so far DeSantis has handled the Idalia crisis about as well as can be expected, with the focus being on his fellow Floridians and their wellbeing instead of showboating and dunking and playing one-upman games, which is something I think most people would agree would be an extraordinarily inappropriate and unseemly thing for any elected official, or someone who wanted to be an elected official, to engage in during times like these.
Related: Closer Look at AP Piece on DeSantis’ Jacksonville Response Raises More Questions About Their Agenda