Can the GOP Accommodate Two Rock Stars?

Can the GOP Accommodate Two Rock Stars? By Jack Cashill.

Fresh from his deft Martha’s Vineyard gambit, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew into Kansas on Sunday…

Saul Alinsky, the acknowledged master of forcing poseurs to honor their own policies, could not have done better than DeSantis. No political stroke in memory has succeeded in exposing liberal hypocrisy quite so effortlessly and effectively.

Had the Islanders taken the 50 illegal aliens in, they might have checked DeSantis’s move and saved a little face, but they didn’t. They lived up to their most ludicrous stereotypes, calling in the National Guard and deporting the hapless Venezuelans to some sterile Army base on the mainland. It will be years before “Martha’s Vineyard” is anything but a template for a meme or a punch line to a joke. …

Rock star performance:

When DeSantis took center stage, the thousands in attendance were primed. They surged to their feet and roared their appreciation. If it wasn’t clear before this past week, it was clear to everyone in Olathe [Kansas] Ron DeSantis has arrived.

Before Donald Trump descended the golden escalator at Trump tower in June 2015, the GOP had gone more than a quarter-century without a rock star. Now, it has two, and that is the challenge. …

Halfway into his roughly hour-long speech DeSantis, too, remained mum on Trump. Nor did he mention Martha’s Vineyard. Leaving the thunder to Schmidt, DeSantis almost matter-of-factly walked the audience through a tutorial on effective governance. Unlike Trump or Obama before him, he began his sentences with “we,” not “I.”

I was eager to hear what the Florida governor had to say about Martha’s Vineyard, and I suspected the audience was too. Well into the speech, DeSantis eased his way into the subject. “It seems,” he said (and here I paraphrase), “illegal immigration has gotten a lot of attention lately.” Almost as one, the audience erupted in cheers and sustained applause.

I was equally curious to see how DeSantis spoke of Donald Trump. He did this smoothly as well, crediting “President Trump” with curtailing immigration through his stay-in-Mexico policy and the building of the border wall. He made the case that Biden undid these efforts for no other reason than to spite Trump. …

Most prefer DeSantis, apparently:

In my conversations with Republicans here in Kansas City where I live, I have found that most prefer that DeSantis be the GOP nominee in 2024. None of the people with whom I’ve spoken are NeverTrumpers. As far as I know, all voted for Trump in 2020, many enthusiastically. The Martha’s Vineyard maneuver, however, has solidified their support for DeSantis.

If DeSantis chooses to run in 2024, he can blow off the Liz Cheney Republicans — there are not enough of them to matter — but he cannot afford to alienate hardcore Trump fans, especially if Trump also decides to run. Given what I’ve seen from afar and what I saw Sunday up close, DeSantis is ambitious enough to run and adroit enough to win.