I think it happened when I saw Bill Maher's thoughtful and thoroughly enjoyable decimation of the "panic porn peddling media" on the most recent episode of "Real Time." Specifically, when he zeroed in on Big Journalism's laughable lauding of New York's scandal-plagued, elderly-endangering governor, Andrew Cuomo, while they simultaneously lose their collective minds over what has turned out to be far better leadership in southern states.
"But, to many liberals, ‘That can't be right because Texas and beach-loving Florida have Republican governors,'" Maher said, before reminding, "but life is complicated."
When Maher went on to explicitly praise the man who has become the media's mortal enemy, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, something just clicked with me.
"I've read that the governor of Florida reads," the television liberal stated matter-of-factly. "[A]pparently the governor is also a voracious consumer of the scientific literature, and maybe that's why he protected his most vulnerable population – the elderly – way better than did the governor of New York."
Most political observers have already noted that DeSantis is well positioned to be an immediate front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary – a perfect explanation for why a vociferously pro-Biden media culture spends an absurd amount of energy trying to convince everyone he's awful despite all evidence to the contrary.
Watching "60 Minutes" shred their own, supposedly impeccable journalistic integrity in a shoddily researched, hackishly edited, and clumsily defended hit piece on DeSantis a couple weeks ago was enough to tell anyone the left fears his rise. And with good reason.
During the Trump years it was not uncommon to hear Republicans and conservatives, thrilled with the president's policy agenda and willingness to identify and fight the media as part and parcel of the leftist power conglomerate, reluctantly ruminate about how nice it would be not to have to accept the Donald's boorish baggage and crass conduct.
Imagine creating a candidate that had Trump's combativeness, what Ross Douthat dubs his "prickly aggression," but replace his penchant for crazy Twitter conspiracy theories with a wonkish consumption of "scientific literature." Imagine creating a candidate who, like Trump, was willing to play hardball with the advocacy propagandists in the press masquerading as reporters – something DeSantis has demonstrated his proficiency in doing – but substitute his record of competent leadership through a global pandemic for the legacy of Trump Steaks and Trump University.
No doubt that is the left's biggest fear, which is what has them rushing to their keyboards to sound the alarm.
But if that's their objective – and can there be any doubt that it is, given that DeSantis is getting exponentially more hostile press right now than someone like Mike Pence is getting – they couldn't be approaching it any worse. As Douthat noted, "nothing…boosts the standing of a Republican politician quite like being attacked deceptively or unsuccessfully by the press."
Barring some heretofore unseen DeSantis scandal that will surface in the next year and a half, there appears to me to be only one way to stop the now meteoric rise of the man from the Sunshine State. And here it is:
Donald Trump is the only way to stop him.
If the left and their media servants want to destroy DeSantis, they can't do it on their own. The more they attack him themselves, the more hit pieces they run, the more they dog his successes while puffing up failed leaders like Cuomo, the higher DeSantis rises in both notoriety and popularity on the right.
Meaning, counterintuitively, the media's best move is to begin extolling DeSantis, crowning him as the leader of a new wave on the right. Sell him as the innovative, improved Trump, knowing and trusting that by doing so they will be setting a match to a powder keg full of the former president's insecurities, pride, and ego.
Trump has every intention of being the Republican candidate in 2024 and will never be content to fade from the limelight in deference to someone he can't claim credit for creating. Leftist hordes will not and cannot destroy the growing affection the right has for the Ivy League-educated-but-conservative-common-sense-spouting governor from the Sunshine State.
But the MAGA brigade could and would if their general does.