Ron DeSantis: Beware of flying pigs

Betty BeanKnox Scene

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.

– doggerel by Lewis Carroll

The water temperature in Florida’s Manatee Bay topped 101-degrees Fahrenheit the morning Ron DeSantis took off for Tennessee to shake the money tree. It wasn’t boiling, but nobody there has ever seen the ocean get that hot, and the scientists are worried.

The governor of Florida isn’t. That’s because he is a manly man – don’t let the white go-go boots fool you. If he worries, he doesn’t show it. He’s God’s gift to the rest of us.

The coral reefs aren’t going to die overnight, and he’s not scared of global warming – which he doesn’t believe in anyway, just like he’s not afraid of Covid or Mickey Mouse or Donald Trump. And despite the fact that he’s running an increasingly distant second to Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential polls, he and his wife still say he’s going to win.

So maybe they know something the rest of us don’t about flying pigs.

I’m talking about those of us who aren’t in GOP operative Susan Richardson Williams’ Rolodex and didn’t know DeSantis was coming to Tennessee until we heard about his four-car motorcade’s chain-reaction fender bender outside Chattanooga. That wreck kind of tickled us. It wasn’t quite as bad as screwing up a two-car funeral, but bad enough to get laughed at, especially after somebody in the DeSantis camp tried to blame it on a dog. Evidently, they didn’t blame the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which was providing the governor a police escort across the state courtesy of Tennessee’s taxpayers.

Back to that 101-degrees Fahrenheit water temperature: you won’t find Florida school children reading about global warming on DeSantis’ watch. They’re going to be too busy learning about the brighter side of slavery to worry about reefs dying or the connection between water temperatures and hurricane season, which is coming earlier, lasting longer and storming fiercer every year.

After brunch in Chattanooga, Knoxville was the next scheduled stop on the Show Me the Money itinerary, and the donors awaited the governor’s arrival at the West Knoxville home of Sherri Parker Lee. The finale was held in Franklin, Tennessee. Moneywise, the waltz across the Volunteer State couldn’t help but succeed.

But money can’t seem to buy DeSantis any love, and this week’s polls have him trailing Trump by more than 30 points. Normally, this willingness to throw money at a failing candidate would be hard to understand – but the donor class fears that Trump won’t survive his mounting legal problems, and “normal” seems to be a long ago and far away concept.

Meanwhile, Knox County GOP chair Buddy Burkhardt, a pretty normal guy, had hoped to get the Florida governor to come to Knoxville and mingle with the rank-and-file at a Lincoln Day dinner, but “DeSantis declined because we couldn’t come up with a significant fundraiser. So, he didn’t have time to speak to us.”

This doesn’t really violate the Golden Rule of Politics: “Them that’s got the gold makes the rules,” but it seems oddly upside down, somehow. So, despite sinking in the polls and laying off a third of his campaign staff, DeSantis still has enough appeal to convince a lot of well-heeled donors that he’s a viable alternative to the indictment-prone POTUS 45, even as his poll numbers circle the bowl.

As an old Union County friend used to say, it’s untelling how this will end. We don’t know how hot or how high the water’s going to get. It’s like trying to reason with hurricane season. I recommend we all keep a weather eye out for flying pigs.

Betty Bean writes a Thursday opinion column for


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