No, Governor DeSantis, You are not a Navy SEAL

Before addressing the inescapable conclusion that Ron DeSantis is not ready for prime time as a presidential contender, and that he should suspend his campaign and endorse President Trump, let's say something positive.

For conservatives, there are things to like about Florida's young 44-year-old governor.

Let’s start with “what if?”

What if President Trump had not endorsed DeSantis in 2018, and what if commie-Democrat Andrew Gillum had been elected governor?

Remember Gillum? The guy later found by police in a drunken stupor in a Miami Beach hotel room, alongside a gay male escort, who by all accounts had overdosed on drugs, in a room where police found baggies of suspected cocaine?

Gillum nearly moved into the Florida governor’s mansion.

If it weren’t for DeSantis, and especially Trump, who powerfully endorsed DeSantis against Gillum in 2018,  Florida would have faced totalitarian lockdowns, like Michigan under Whitmer, California under Newsome, and New York under Cuomo.

Under DeSantis, in September, 2020, Florida reopened from COVID sooner than most states. Despite some claims pushed by his own camp, DeSantis was not the best governor in the country combating COVID mandates.

For example, Governor Brian Kemp opened Georgia in April, 2020, five months sooner than DeSantis opened Florida. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem never closed her state. And while Florida reopened long before most Democrat states, DeSantis, lest we forget, did shut down the state, and shut down beaches and businesses, something he did not have to do.,  

Nevertheless, DeSantis admirably ended Florida lockdowns sooner than most states.

Under his leadership, Republican registration in Florida has outpaced Democrat registration to the point that not even the left-wing pundits can with a straight face call Florida a “purple state.”

DeSantis should be commended for his war against wokeism in Florida and elsewhere. And in this regard, few conservatives have matched his intensity. His military service is admirable, and more on that in a moment. 

Nonetheless, while light-years better than any modern Democrat presidential alternative, DeSantis has proven, by several tactical blunders, that he is not yet ready for prime time and not ready to replace a once-in-a-lifetime, generational leader like President Trump.

His first tactical blunder came by allowing anybody-but-Trump billionaire  Rupert Murdoch to talk him into throwing his hat in the presidential ring against President Trump, a foolish leap by DeSantis into the lion’s den.

Because of DeSantis’s blunders, Trump is slaughtering DeSantis in the polls.

By September 1, the Wall Street Journal reports that nearly 60 percent of Republicans favor President Trump over the eight challengers who appeared at the Fox Debate. Trump holds a 46-point lead over DeSantis, with the governor’s support slipping to levels close to Vivek Ramaswamy.

No, DeSantis isn’t ready for prime time, at least not north of the Florida-Georgia line.

Let’s explore several recent blunders killing his chances.

First came gross campaign mismanagement, where DeSantis burned through millions donated by RINO anti-Trump super-PACs, without developing a coherent strategy to position himself as a credible alternative to Trump. His incompetent campaign allowed 38-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy, until recently a political no-name, to surpass the governor in some polls, while nipping at his heels in others.

A horse race for second with Vivek is the last thing that DeSantis needs. But that’s what he has.

DeSantis’s inability to gain traction has led his billionaire backers to look elsewhere. Rupert Murdoch has tried persuading Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin to enter the race to replace DeSantis as anybody-but-Trump candidate number one. Las Vegas billionaire Robert Bigelow, who contributed $20 million on March 30 to the super-PAC supporting DeSantis, has also withdrawn support.

Then DeSantis attacks Trump supporters as “listless vessels” “not rooted in principle, much like Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables'' insult. Rather than apologizing for a loose-lipped slip-of-the-tongue, DeSantis, who needs Trump voters, doubled down on the comment, piling dumber on top of dumb.

As word surfaced that DeSantis, while in Congress, sponsored a bill to add Puerto Rico as a state, a sure-fire recipe for padding the Democrats' electoral count in presidential elections, DeSantis appeared at the Fox debate of second stringers, implying that he ran missions with U.S. Navy SEALS, but not fully clarifying his real role.

Not smart.

Here’s what DeSantis said:

“I learned in the military -- I was assigned with US Navy SEALs in Iraq -- that you focus on the mission above all else. …And I've deployed in Iraq alongside US Navy SEALs, in places like Fallujah and Ramadi.

“And it's something that I think has taught me -- you know, when you go in that type of environment, anything you have, your personal agenda, you check it at the door. You go there and it's about focusing on the mission above all else. And guys come together and they get it done.

DeSantis’s decision to serve his country as a U.S. Navy JAG officer is admirable. For that, he deserves credit. But the problem isn't what DeSantis said, it's what he did not say.


“Deployed alongside Navy SEALs?”


By omission, DeSantis implies that he ran dangerous, daring missions with the SEALs.

To be clear, U.S. Navy SEALs and their Army counterpart, Delta Force, perform the most dangerous missions on the planet.

DeSantis boasting about being with the SEALs and learning to focus on the “mission,” implying the SEALs’ missions, suggests to low-information voters that he was a special operations warfighter and perhaps even a SEAL himself.

Come on Ron. You might fool chardonnay-sipping, low-information voters out in the suburbs who don’t know the difference, but you aren’t fooling anybody who served in the military.

Yes, JAG officers work with the SEALs, write wills for them, write powers of attorney, give legal advice, and sometimes even advise SEAL commanders on rules-of-engagement matters. This is honorable service.

And yes, JAG officers might find themselves in harm’s way.

But the SEALs, with the most dangerous job in the world, are always in harm's way. DeSantis knows that JAG officers don’t jump from a plane at 30,000 feet over the ocean, or go on top-secret missions to kill Al Qaeda Terrorists.

Technically, DeSantis claiming “I was with the SEALs” may be accurate, but misleading and incomplete. DeSantis was a JAG officer, not a SEAL. Both are honorable, but there’s a difference.

If DeSantis wants to play the SEAL card, he should fly across his state to the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, FL, which has on its grounds a granite wall, the “Wall of Honor” displaying the names of every SEAL who gave his life. DeSantis should honor them by shooting it straight about his own military service, without embellishment.

After clarifying his record, DeSantis should do himself a favor, suspend his campaign, and endorse President Trump. By taking this step, DeSantis might be able to bury his glaring campaign mistakes -- including his SEAL card charade -- save his political career and fight for the presidency at some point in the future, when he is fully ready and more experienced.

Don Brown, a former U.S. Navy JAG officer, is the author of the book Travesty of Justice: The Shocking Prosecution of Lieutenant Clint LoranceThe Last Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Final Combat Mission of World War II , and CALL SIGN EXTORTION 17: The Shootdown of SEAL Team Six, and the author of 15 books on the United States Military, including three national bestsellers.  He is one of four former JAG officers serving on the Lorance legal team. Lorance was pardoned by President Trump in November 2019.  Brown is also a former military prosecutor, and a former Special Assistant United States Attorney.  He can be reached at and on Twitter @donbrownbooks.

Image: US Navy

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