Question: Since when did acting like an oaf become an audition for higher office?
Ooh, ooh. I know that answer.
It was when a candidate mocked women, mocked disabled people, bartered in crass comments about foreigners and people of color. And then that candidate, to America’s shame, ascended to its highest office.
That explains Ron DeSantis.
Recently in a foul-tempered photo op, the Florida governor was in full oaf.
He impatiently told high-schoolers who had been lined up to be part of his photo backdrop to take off their masks.
“It’s not doing anything,” he said. It’s time to stop “this COVID theater."
Then he sighed like he was surrounded by toddlers. What I saw was a governor embarrassing teen-agers to make a point. On some of them, it worked. But a few kept their masks on.
Geeze, Mr. Governor. Those who have worn face coverings amid a deadly pandemic didn’t do it for kicks.
DeSantis has made petulance in a pandemic one of his defining qualities.
He’s decided that fighting Anthony Fauci is more important than fighting the disease. Talk about theater.
He’s mocked the CDC. He’s fined school districts that required masks. He hired a surgeon general whom one can infer is unvaccinated. He won’t say. What the man says, as pediatricians everywhere cringe, is young children shouldn’t be.
While most of the country was taking the pandemic seriously and limiting gatherings, DeSantis made Florida the world’s largest super-spreader.
Not surprisingly, it ranks No. 7 in the nation per capita for COVID deaths, according the Beckers Hospital Review.
One would think Florida would be extra-cautious with its immense senior population.
But this is all about Ron.
And it's about a strain of humanity less concerned about the greater good than about fun, profit and self-interest.
We’re seeing the same type of behavior in the so-called Freedom Convoy – valiant truckers who have gummed up North American highways to protest life-saving measures: vaccines, masks.
This co-opting of “freedom” reminds one of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ statement, “Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.”
Your nose: pathway of pathogens.
If COVID-19 were plainly symptomatic in all instances, the case for masks would be easier to understand. It isn’t.
But of course, this isn’t just about masks. It’s about self-interest vs. community interest, whatever the need might be.
The interesting thing is that those most possessed of self-interest state most loudly they worship a savior who said selflessness should guide every action.
Not for a second are these principles guiding Ron DeSantis or his role model at Mar-a-Lago.
Sometime during this fraught period, with people’s annoyance thresholds no higher than their kneecaps, a term was birthed to describe a certain kind of person — a “Karen.”
She’s ever-aggrieved, pathologically privileged, besieged by inconvenience. She has a smartphone and isn’t afraid to use it.
One problem with this – aside from broad-brushing all Karens – is that we have no male equivalent.
Since I haven’t heard any nominations for this, let me enter “Ron” as the man who has all of “Karen’s” characteristics.
Rons are full of grievances, but a few really grate at the moment.
Rons will vote in the next school board election based on one issue alone: their irritation with face coverings.
Rons think the whole pandemic thing was overblown and/or likely a Chinese plot. And if it wasn’t a Chinese plot, the Chinese and Dr. Fauci are up to something.
Rons think Fauci has “politicized the pandemic,” as opposed to, say, politicians who know as much about epidemiology as the average first-grader.
By the way, to their great credit, some of the students DeSantis upbraided kept their masks on. The better to not contract whatever he has.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.