Ron DeSantis is a bully. And like many bullies, all the bluster and chest-puffing mostly serves to betray his own glaring inadequacy—namely, that he’s an absurd weirdo whose ambitions far exceed his aptitudes. Case in point: the Florida governor’s threat to begin an “inquiry” into Bud Light’s quickly-abandoned marketing campaign featuring transgender social media star Dylan Mulvaney.
“We believe that when you take your eye off the ball like that, you’re not following your fiduciary duty,” DeSantis told Fox News’ Jesse Watters Thursday evening, announcing plans to investigate the beer brand’s parent company, AB InBev. “It could be something that leads to a derivative lawsuit filed on behalf of the shareholders of the Florida pension fund, because at the end of the day, there’s gotta be penalties for when you put business aside to focus on your social agenda at the expense of hardworking people.”
The idea—which DeSantis also raised in a letter Thursday to Florida’s State Board of Administration—is so patently stupid that it barely deserves a full recounting. So the gist is this: Back in April, Bud Light partnered with Mulvaney for a marketing campaign, which it quickly abandoned after conservatives threw a tantrum. Despite throwing Mulvaney under the bus, Bud Light has continued to suffer the wrath of the right, and has struggled to regain its sales numbers. According to DeSantis, that dip in sales—which conservatives themselves brought about—may mean the company “breached legal duties owed to its shareholders.”
“All options are on the table,” DeSantis wrote, accusing the company of “virtue signaling.”
If this idiotic “inquiry” into the beer company sounds familiar, it’s perhaps because Texas Senator Ted Cruz—a failed GOP presidential candidate whose ranks DeSantis seems poised to join—already announced a probe of his own into this matter of grave national import back in May. So not only is this performance by DeSantis stupid; it’s also unoriginal.
Which isn’t surprising: Much of DeSantis’s act is borrowed from Donald Trump. And even one of his most high-profile stunts—sending migrants to blue enclaves (i.e., using human beings as pawns to protest Joe Biden’s border policies)—was cribbed from the Greg Abbott playbook. DeSantis’s transformation of Florida into a petri dish of far-right policy may have made him a national figure. But that has not been able to make up for his significant deficiencies as a national candidate—including, but not limited to, his lack of anything approximating personality or charisma.
That’s left him with nothing but culture war. It may play with any members of the very-online right still thinking about Bud Light, but is more likely to confuse anyone who logged off from this inane controversy months ago. Perhaps it will even irk Republicans who don’t like the idea of government trying to exert control over corporations’ ad campaigns, or at least those who would prefer their party leaders focus on something other than pissing contests with Bud Light and Disney, the latter of which DeSantis has been feuding with for more than a year over its then-CEO’s reluctant, mild-criticism of Florida’s hideous “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Between that Disney dust-up and his presidential bid, it may be hard for DeSantis to find the time to battle Bud Light. But it’s possible his schedule could be freeing up pretty soon, based on recent reports out of his floundering race for the GOP nod: “The entire campaign is on the brink,” a source familiar with the matter told NBC News after DeSantis fired about a dozen staffers this week. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”