Whatever candidate Ron DeSantis intended when he warned voters not to let his African American opponent, Andrew Gillum, “monkey this up,” it’s very clear DeSantis was giving a loud, unmistakable dog whistle to his white, Trumper base when he refused to apologize Wednesday night on the Hannity show.
It was predictable that DeSantis would run to Hannity tonight. Not only is Hannity a supporter who campaigned with DeSantis, but there is no better friend to white guys in racial hot water than Hannity.
Nevertheless, Hannity offered DeSantis an opportunity to walk back his comments (in which he also remarked, as though a surprise, on Gillum’s articulateness). DeSantis’ refusal spoke volumes.
HANNITY: Did you in anyway and do you in any way think that was something that was misstated or racist in any way? Because that’s what they’re implying.
DESANTIS: It has zero to do with race, Sean. It has everything to do with whether we want Florida to continue to go in a good direction, building off this success or do we want to turn to left-wing socialist policies which will absolutely devastate our state.
And here’s the thing: I believe people should be judged based on their ability and character regardless of race but it’s because of that that I know that socialism won’t work in Florida. It’s not good for any race, color or creed. So this is not about race. This is about ideas and principles. And I’m not gonna let the Democrats and Andrew Gillum try to obscure a debate about whether his tax increases, his single payer health care plan, his desire to abolish ICE, whether that is something that’s acceptable for Florida. I don’t think it is and I don’t care what color you are.
HANNITY: Listen, Florida has become one of the fastest growing, lowest unemployed states in the country. And it’s a very diverse state. But we’re now in an environment where people want to purposely take things out of context. … I guess the issue comes down to who you are, what’s in your heart and what do you tell people that are hearing that news and interpretation tonight.
DESANTIS: Well, look, Sean, from athletics to the military to how I’ve conducted myself as an elected official, I’m a straight shooter. I treat everyone with respect regardless of circumstances of birth and I believe the great thing about this country is that you can grow up in places where you don’t have a lot of opportunity initially and you can work hard and get ahead regardless of the color of your skin. That’s really central to what America’s all about.
Any candidate interested in appealing to African Americans would have acknowledged the impact of his comments and apologized for his poor choice of words. Instead, both DeSantis and Hannity suggested that the fault lay with anyone who took offense.
DeSantis raised the dog whistle some more decibels with his statements that he won’t “let” Gillum “obscure a debate” and that “the great thing about this country” is that anyone who works hard can “get ahead regardless of the color of your skin.”
That is nothing less than a sly way of dismissing racism in America as a myth while accusing those who think differently of being the real racial villains. It’s a common ploy of white nationalist hero Tucker Carlson.
So, yeah, it’s possible DeSantis’ “monkey” remark had “zero to do with race.” But it’s a solid hundred that he’s all about turning out his white, Trumper base and more than happy to use racial animus in the process. The real zero is the level of decency DeSantis has displayed in the 24 hours since he won the nomination in Florida's gubernatorial race.
Watch the dog whistling below, from the August 29, 2018 Hannity.
I agree with you. There’s nearly zero chance DeSantis’ comments weren’t meant as a dog whistle. MSNBC just played an interview of DeSantis on Laura Ingraham’s radio show and, as I predicted in a previous comment, out came the ‘political correctness’ whine.
DeSantis is playing to the Trump base who everyone knows is the grievanced white identity crowd. There’s no doubt his “monkey” comment was calculated so he could get a lot of free attention and play the ‘political correctness’ victim which is cat nip to the Trumpsters. As you’ve pointed out, if it was a slip he’d simply apologize and do it quickly.
The hot air this clown spews is going to create another hurricane.