Joe Henderson: Break ties with Australia? Was Ron DeSantis kidding?
Image via AP.

DeSantis 7.12.21
The Governor let his bravado overload his brain when comparing COVID-19 responses.

Politics can sometimes make otherwise sane humans say and do silly things. And so it was with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who let his bravado overload his brain by suggesting out loud that the United States should consider breaking diplomatic ties with long-time ally Australia.

Why, you ask?

Australia imposed stringent lockdowns to combat COVID-19 in its largest cities, that’s why.

Sydney got it the worst, staying in lockdown since June 26 that required the military to keep things under control, followed by Melbourne since Aug. 5. The capital territory of Canberra heard the doors slam on Aug. 12 after officials discovered a single positive test.

“That’s not a free country. It’s not a free country at all,” DeSantis said at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition in Tampa.

“In fact, I wonder why we would still have the same diplomatic relations when they’re doing that. Is Australia freer than communist China right now? I don’t know. The fact that that’s even a question tells you something has gone dramatically off the rails with some of this stuff.”

Oh, please! That’s one time when his brain — educated at Harvard and Yale — should have over-ridden his mouth.

The Governor, you may have heard, doesn’t like mandates unless, of course, it’s his mandate. He has a full-blown romance with executive orders to show the world who’s in charge in Florida.

His approach to the pandemic has been to spit in its eye euphemistically and to declare victory over a virus that still hasn’t gotten the message. No mask mandates and no vaccine requirements might sound good on the campaign trail, as long as everyone ignores that pesky Florida death count that now surpasses 54,000.

That’s almost as many as the number of U.S. soldiers who died in Vietnam.

The COVID-19 infection and death rates for Florida are indeed trending sharply downward now. That’s good news, but comes with an asterisk. A few months ago, the same thing happened before the delta variant crashed the party, sending the butcher’s bill skyrocketing again.

We can only hope there isn’t a sequel once everyone decides delta is no longer a threat. Another mutated virus could rock DeSantis’ world again.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, we’d certainly understand if our friends down under were virus-weary and simply over all the lockdowns. Shoot, some Floridians lose their cookies when told they have to wear a mask. A lockdown as long as what the Aussies have endured probably does feel a little like a prison.

Here’s a number for you, though.

Total COVID-19 deaths in Australia as of Sept. 29: 1,278.

That’s in a country of about 25 million, which is around 4 million more residents than Florida. Our death rate is 43 times higher than the country the Governor suggested we kick to the curb over its virus policy.

Far too often, more people died here in a month than in Australia during the entire pandemic. That doesn’t even count those here who survived COVID-19 but now have long-term health challenges.

Yet, remember that DeSantis said Australia has gone “dramatically off the rails.”

What track is he looking at?

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Ron Ogden

    September 29, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    Hey, Joe, does this interest you? From the Australian Press Council, talking about how “journalists” like you should behave: “The reporter/writer concerned may not be equipped to judge the value or otherwise of the reported treatments. Statements on efficacy should be treated with extreme care.”
    Isn’t that an example of sound Australian reasoning? “. . .may not be equipped to judge. . . .” Sounds like common sense to me when it comes to bloggers who call themselves opinion leaders. Maybe we should have a Press Commission in Florida. Maybe the legislature can MANDATE it. Whatd’ya think Joe?

    • Alex

      September 29, 2021 at 8:24 pm

      If you don’t like what Joe says, don’t read him.

      Oh wait…….

      You just want to whine.

  • Alex

    September 29, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    Joe Joe Joe, you should know by now Republicans don’t have any idea of life beyond Trumpistan.

    It’s where only angry old uneducated white men run things and their money and privilege are more important than lives.

    • Ron Ogden

      September 30, 2021 at 9:53 am

      “It’s where only angry old uneducated white men run things and their money and privilege. . . ”
      As opposed to “wimpy young elite graduates of unhappy races and indeterminate gender don’t run things and don’t have any money or privilege. . . .” People like yourself, I suppose.
      Well, all in all I am glad to be among the former.

    • John

      September 30, 2021 at 4:15 pm

      Just like the Taliban.

      • Lynn

        September 30, 2021 at 4:50 pm

        So wait you’re comparing the people who want to live freely and make their own choices to the taliban, and you’re defending the tyrants in Australia who are keeping people locked in their homes and beating them if they leave. Am I understanding that correctly?

  • ScienceBLVR

    September 29, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    Wait, there any way DeSantis can doc the pay of the Aussie officials who are perpretrating these crazed lifesaving policies there? Maybe his kid can help “build a wall” with her blocks to keep those Crocodile Dundee types down under where they belong…

  • Mr Right

    September 29, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    Australia is a police state now. What once was one of the freest countries in the world according to the freedom index is now no better than muslim countries and worse than some.

    Australia is violating many basic human rights yet the press is silent.

    Take note because what happened in Australia some marxist knuckleheads in the dem party want to do here in the states.

  • John Roberts

    September 30, 2021 at 7:41 am

    I’m in Melbourne, Australia.Yes the impact of the virus hasn’t been bad here. Only 900 people have died of Covid here in total from a city of 6 million people. Most of these were in Aged Care last year. Remarkably in total 9,000 LESS people died last year than 2019 because the lockdowns stopped all sorts of other diseases as well as Covid. Covid was only the 38th biggest cause of death in Australia in 2020.

    Sounds great right? Well what’s the cost?

    Well it is just past 9pm and so its now illegal for me to step outside my front door until 5am tomorrow. It’s been like this for months and it was for months last year as well. We haven’t been told exactly when that will end. Retail is all shut except for supermarkets, pharmacies and take away and it’s been like this months. Businesses are completely stuffed but fortunately we’re still wealthy enough to prop everyone up with welfare. We’re now allowed out of home to exercise 3 hours a day which is a relief because for months it was only an hour. We have formally been in lockdown for a world record 240 days and my kids have missed over 30 weeks of face to face school. They aren’t allowed back for at least another 4-6 weeks either. Kids playgrounds were literally fenced up until recently, rings taken off basketball courts and on nice days the police would hover helicopters over parks to warn people about staying too long. Cops are firing rubber bullets and pepper spraying groups who gather to protest. People have been arrested in their homes for facebook posts that look like they are planning protests against the lockdowns.

    I don’t know what’s happened to this country and especially this city. We saw what happened elsewhere and lost all sense of proportionality on Covid. To control it we’re basically living in a police state that just goes on and on and on. The state of emergency declared by the government has been running for 20 months. Nothing matters but the covid case numbers. Parliament has basically been shut down and the state government does what it pleases to “keep us safe”. We’re not living, just existing. It’s horrible.

  • Lynn

    September 30, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    What’s happening in Australia is so evil. Ron Desantis is completely right. I’ve been wondering why no other politicians are mentioning it. They’re spraying children and elderly in the face with pepper spray if they’re not wearing masks properly. There are videos. Look them up. They’re beating people in the streets. Covid is just the excuse they’re using to get away with it. You’re a fool if you think this is okay. It’s scary how compliant the public has become to tyranny. I’m shocked at how weak and indoctrinated Americans have become especially.

  • Nigel Rockliffe

    September 30, 2021 at 10:06 pm

    I fully understand why De Santis prefers to see 50,000 Floridians die so that he can keep the economy ticking over and the bars open. What I don’t understand is why he won’t say so. I would have thought a guy like him would be proud of what he’s achieved. C’mon Ron, don’t hide your light under a bushel. Let’s hear it for the cause! They died so we could prosper. (Just a thought from Melbourne, the one in Australia, that is.)

  • Gary

    October 2, 2021 at 9:00 am

    The lives of citizens do not matter in Florida, the death rate from covid is a reflection of a thriving capitalistic state. Keep the bars and restaurants open. You will get over the deaths of your family members. They would die eventually. Let’s not forget Ron DeSantis and his family is vaccinated.

  • Stentor

    October 2, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    Don’t be too hard on poor Ron. Think of it this way. For every dead Floridian there are 388 who have been spared the fate of communism. Unlike us poor Aussies, who live in squalor and penury under the communist yoke. No, Ron is truly the savior of his people — some of them, anyway.

Comments are closed.


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