Key Point: “Ladapo is, in other words, the very last thing DeSantis needs right now: Another sycophant; another crackpot; one less person who can speak to the governor sincerely and pushback when needed against some of his most warped ideas. This period of intellectual closure began last year, when DeSantis raged against media coverage of his leadership during COVID.”
Florida Times-Union – OPINION: Nate Monroe: For Florida’s new surgeon general, DeSantis trades out a ghost for a crackpot
By Nate Monroe
September 22, 2021
For DeSantis, who believes masks, vaccines and common courtesy to be the tools of totalitarian oppression, Rivkees’ continued presence in state government could only be tolerated henceforth in spectral form — technically still Florida’s surgeon general until as recently as this week, but cursed to never be seen or heard from again.
And now, even after his long-due departure, DeSantis is so committed to ensuring Rivkees stays out of the daylight the state has tried to stop him from being deposed in a lawsuit over the governor’s failed attempt to ban mask mandates in public schools — an effort Rivkees ostensibly led by “crafting” Department of Health rules putting the ban into effect, and an issue for which one could reasonably assume Rivkees would have valuable knowledge to share in a courtroom.
To replace the renegade Rivkees, DeSantis this week plucked a peculiar figure from out of obscurity: Joseph Ladapo, a physician and researcher at UCLA whose sole claim to notoriety is his willingness to adopt positions on COVID that are conspicuously similar to DeSantis’ own and widely rejected as dangerous and misguided by the vast majority of his peers in healthcare. That is to say, DeSantis will not be squirreling Ladapo away in a maintenance closet like Rivkees; this latest general will play a central role on the battlefield.
Ladapo echoes DeSantis’ worldview that the only way to move past the pandemic is to achieve “herd immunity” — a barbaric view that policymakers should simply allow COVID to burn through the population. He, like DeSantis, is unlikely to ever publicly reckon with the nearly 52,000 Floridians and counting who have lost their lives, a stunning failure of public policy and of the heart.
Ladapo rejects vaccine mandates and has argued the vaccines themselves may be more dangerous than public-health experts have said. He questions the usefulness of masks. He has promoted the long-debunked hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 elixir.
He would be a comical figure were lives not at stake.
Ladapo is, in other words, the very last thing DeSantis needs right now: Another sycophant; another crackpot; one less person who can speak to the governor sincerely and pushback when needed against some of his most warped ideas. This period of intellectual closure began last year, when DeSantis raged against media coverage of his leadership during COVID.
Since then, DeSantis shed himself of serious advisers and has surrounded himself instead with cranks and pretenders whose incompetence and unwillingness to speak the truth have, predictably, capsized some of his top priorities and ensnared him in losing legal battles.
Floridians will find in short order having an invisible surgeon general wasn’t so bad after all.