Did DeSantis Miscalculate Against Disney?

Even fellow Republicans are questioning his escalating fight against the company
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2023 12:24 PM CDT
DeSantis' Disney Fight Worries Republicans
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Utah Republican Party Organizing Convention at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, on Saturday, April 22, 2023.   (Ryan Sun/The Deseret News via AP)

Now that Disney has fired back in a big way at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a common theme in coverage has emerged, one that questions whether DeSantis has taken on too big of a fight ahead of his expected entry into the 2024 race. He may well prove the naysayers wrong, but the sentiment is coming not just from his usual critics on the left but from within his own party in Florida, as the Orlando Sentinel reports. Coverage:

  • The Hill has an overview, with Niall Strange writing that "whispers are growing louder among Republicans that (DeSantis) has miscalculated in his battle with Disney—a struggle that has already gone on for more than a year and has no end in sight." Yes, many Republicans back his fight against "wokeness," but others are worried he's defying conservative principles by using his elected authority to go after a company with which he disagrees.

  • “If you are allowing governors to dictate their own politics to private businesses, what is to stop a liberal governor from doing the same?” one source described as close to former President Trump puts it to the Hill. Trump himself has declared that DeSantis is getting "absolutely destroyed" by Disney over this "political STUNT," per Semafor. The latter site also includes a criticism from Chris Christie, who suggests that DeSantis isn't up to the task of negotiating with the likes of Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin, "if you can’t see around a corner that [Disney CEO] Bob Iger created for you."
  • The conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal suggests that neither DeSantis nor Disney will win this escalating "knife fight." The company's "denunciation of Florida’s education law was gratuitous, but so are Mr. DeSantis's threats of retribution," the editors write. "The lawsuit doesn’t paint the Governor in the best light, and he will get a black eye as he runs for President if Disney prevails in its lawsuit."
  • Other stories describe the difficulty of winning a legal fight against the behemoth company. "Disney is playing the long game," former GOP state Sen. Jeff Brandes tells the Journal in a separate story. "Disney has been here for 50 [years]. They’re not going anywhere." The New York Times has a similar analysis, with Charles Homans writing that "taking on Mickey Mouse is a tricky business." Previous fights and boycotts against the company have made headlines initially, only to fizzle into irrelevance. The piece questions whether "the rules for anti-corporate campaigns" have indeed changed or whether DeSantis has been too aggressive.
(More Ron DeSantis stories.)

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