One of the more unique turns of politics in the year of our Lord 2023 is the war Florida governor Ron DeSantis declared on Disney. Yes, the same Disney that is one of the state’s largest employers. Told you it was a strange turn.
You know who else isn’t impressed? Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. In an interview with Semafor’s Steve Clemons, Christie says the far-right’s outrage over the supposed “woke” business of Disney isn’t what the GOP is supposed to be about. Saying, “as a conservative, the job of government is … to stay out of the business of business.” He continued, “I don’t think Ron DeSantis is a conservative, based on his actions towards Disney.”
He goes on to paint DeSantis with the dreaded L-word (for Republicans):
“Where are we headed here now that if you express disagreement in this country, the government is allowed to punish you? To me, that’s what I always thought liberals did,” Christie said.
But the real body blow comes when talking about how Disney out-maneuvered DeSantis. DeSantis launched a plan to terminate the state’s agreements giving the company functional oversight of the land surrounding Walt Disney World via the Reedy Creek Improvement District. A hand-picked board of DeSantis cronies would take over the Reedy Creek board and thus control a lot of the land around the park. But that’s not what happened. The Mouse’s lawyers used the rule against perpetuities to glorious effect to strip the DeSantis-appointed Reedy Creek board of any power over the theme park. And Christie thinks that reflects mighty poorly on DeSantis.
In one instance, Disney sidestepped an effort from DeSantis to create a hand-picked oversight board for the Disney district by limiting the board’s power.
“That’s not the guy I want sitting across from President Xi and negotiating our next agreement with China, or sitting across from Putin and trying to resolve what’s happening in Ukraine, if you can’t see around a corner that [Disney CEO] Bob Iger created for you,” Christie said.
“You have to admit when you screwed up and got taken. It happens,” he added, saying that the ordeal calls DeSantis’ maturity and judgment into question.
And Christie knows a little something about political revenge. But in terms of political savvy, Christie at least had the wherewithal to have a scapegoat ready and waiting when Bridgegate broke. DeSantis? He just looks like a chump scrambling to make his revenge plan stick.
Christie also said he’s considering a 2024 presidential run, but all this probably just helps clear the way for Donald Trump’s campaign. After all, there’s never been a politician able to capitalize on ridiculing his opponents quite like Trump.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.