In a recent episode of Steve Bannon’s War Room: Pandemic, the former advisor to President Donald Trump made a striking statement about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: “DeSantis isn’t in his comfort zone, he’s not a gameday player.”
Bannon was referring to DeSantis’ handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Florida, which has become one of the worst-hit states in the country. Despite early success in keeping the virus at bay, Florida has experienced a surge in cases and deaths over the last several months, prompting criticism from experts and public health officials.
Bannon’s comment is not the first time that DeSantis has been accused of mishandling the pandemic. Critics have pointed to his reluctance to implement a statewide mask mandate or to order widespread business closures as contributing factors to the spike in cases.
But what does it mean to say that DeSantis is not a “gameday player”? In sports, this term is typically used to describe an athlete who fails to perform well in high-pressure situations, such as playoff games or championship matches. It suggests that the individual may have talent or skill, but struggles under the weight of expectations or heightened scrutiny.
Applied to politics, the phrase carries a similar connotation. It implies that DeSantis may be capable of governing effectively under normal circumstances, but lacks the leadership or decision-making skills required to navigate a crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Certainly, there is evidence to support this claim. As mentioned earlier, Florida’s handling of the pandemic has been marked by inconsistency, mixed messaging, and a seeming reluctance to take decisive action in the face of a mounting health crisis. While some may argue that DeSantis has had to balance economic concerns with public health considerations, others point to the fact that Florida has experienced a devastating loss of life from the virus, and that decisive action may have been necessary to curb its spread.
At the same time, it is worth noting that Bannon’s comments reflect his own ideological views and political preferences. As a former advisor to Trump and a staunch conservative, he may be inclined to view DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic through a particular lens, and may be using the “gameday player” metaphor to score political points or advance his own agenda.
Regardless of the motivations behind Bannon’s remarks, however, it is clear that DeSantis’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida has come under intense scrutiny. Whether or not he is ultimately seen as a “gameday player,” his actions over the coming months and years will be closely watched and debated by experts, politicians, and ordinary citizens alike.