Don’t be fooled, voters: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is as insane as Donald Trump! That was Paul Krugman’s warning in his Friday column based on DeSantis’s occasionally hesitant tone toward vaccinations and a recent request for a grand jury probe over statements from COVID-vaccine makers: “DeSantis May Make 2024 an Election About Vaccines.”
….anyone imagining DeSantis as a more sensible, saner figure than Trump -- a right-wing populist without the reality-denying paranoia -- is delusional. DeSantis hasn’t gone down all the same rabbit holes as Trump, but he has gone down some of his own, and his descent has been just as deep.
Above all, DeSantis is increasingly making himself the face of vaccine conspiracy theories, which have turned a medical miracle into a source of bitter partisan division and have contributed to thousands of unnecessary deaths.
In order to cream DeSantis, Krugman took the staggering step of praising the Trump administration for the vaccine development plan Operation Warp Speed.
….although New York was hit hard in the first months of the pandemic (before we knew how the coronavirus spread or what precautions to take), since May 2021 more than twice as many people have died of Covid in Florida than in New York. Even taking Florida’s slightly larger and much older population into account, that’s thousands of excess deaths in the Sunshine State.
It's interesting that Krugman keeps the number vague now, given he was happy to be more specific in a November Tweetstorm:
….one thing I hope doesn't get forgotten in the horse-race coverage is DeSantis's major achievement as governor: the unnecessary death of around 20,000 Floridians
Perhaps Krugman felt obliged to acknowledge Florida’s elderly population (which a non-hack would have done in the first place) after pushback to his previous anti-DeSantis tweets.
He was angry with DeSantis for calling for a grand jury to look into possible misinformation spread by vaccine companies. Krugman sneered, “I doubt that anyone believes that DeSantis knows or cares about the scientific evidence here.”
Actually, DeSantis provided several examples of misleading claims about vaccine efficacy from Pfizer and Moderna, and President Biden himself, who falsely stated "You're not going to get Covid if you have these vaccinations." Krugman probably didn’t bother looking.
To commit his latest anti-DeSantis rant, Krugman had to ignore actual facts, available at nytimes.com, showing Florida’s “fully vaccinated” percentage of the population is slightly higher than the national average (68 percent vs 67 percent), significantly higher than blue states like Michigan and comparable to Oregon and Minnesota. If DeSantis is trying to seed anti-vaccine propaganda in Florida, he’s doing a lousy job of it.
Krugman has been after DeSantis ever since he became the face of freedom from COVID restrictions. The title of a Krugman newsletter from August 2021 was gleefully punitive toward DeSantis for having refused to sufficiently disrupt normal life in Florida: “Lock Florida Down Now!” (It would have served nicely to wreck DeSantis’s political career.)
Imagine for a moment that Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida were to have a sudden attack of conscience -- if he were suddenly to admit to himself the carnage his Covid denial has created -- and were to do an abrupt about-face, trying to limit the damage….What would he do? The answer, I’d submit, is that he’d call for an immediate, fairly strict lockdown: mask requirements, a ban on indoor dining, the works