Touting his environmental ‘success,’ DeSantis is more con man than conservationist

Gov. Ron DeSantis gives his second inaugural speech in front of the Old Florida Capitol Building on Jan. 3, 2023. Credit: Danielle J. Brown.

Maybe it’s because I’m from Florida, home to sooooo many slick talkers, but I love a good yarn about con artists. “The Sting,” “American Hustle,” “The Music Man” — the list of great grifter movies is a long one, including “The Grifters.”

These stories show how some people can weave a magical spell with words that allows them to siphon all the money out of a mark’s pockets. Often, they do it without the mark even realizing they’ve been conned.

So when I heard Gov. Ron DeSantis’ second inauguration speech, I couldn’t help but to stand up and applaud. What a great con job!

The news coverage of the governor’s speech focused mostly on his truculent proclamation that this is the state where “woke” — a term that means “being aware of important facts and issues” — goes to die. Remember that the next time you walk into a state office and find all the employees have dozed off. The governor is apparently OK with that.

But there was a lot more to the speech than him throwing out political buzzwords left and right (or rather, right and further right).

What really got my attention was what he said about Florida’s rampant water pollution problems. You know what I mean — the ones that keep fueling toxic algae blooms that stink up our waterways, kill off our seagrass, and starve manatees, not to mention making our tourists choke and gasp.

Let me quote it verbatim:

“We promised to usher in a new era of stewardship for Florida’s natural resources by promoting water quality and Everglades restoration efforts — and we delivered.”

Isn’t that a masterpiece of misdirection?

It sure SOUNDS good — or rather, the pieces do. “A new era of stewardship!” “Promoting water quality!” “Everglades restoration!” And he says he delivered, just as reliably as the U.S. Postal Service!

But if you try to pin this wriggling little sentence down to analyze what it means, you’ll find it slipping through your fingers. It sounds like he’s bragging about how he’s cleaned up Florida’s pollution when in fact he’s basically admitting he’s done nothing of the kind.

“He is the master of the greenwash,” fussed Cris Costello, the Sierra Club’s senior organizer, who is clearly not as big a con man fan as I am. “The truth is, he not only hasn’t done anything, he’s actually made things worse.”

Yet with his dazzling diversion, DeSantis has casually sidestepped the consequences of not keeping his promise to clean up our waterways. In fact, he’s danced away from any responsibility for the sorry state of our waters.

Even though he’s the one who let it happen. Read more