The latest piece from Washington Post opinion columnist Max Boot claimed that Governor Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., is a "bigger threat to the Republic" than former President Donald Trump because he is "smarter" than Trump.

He also claimed in his Wednesday column that DeSantis reminds him of another "unpleasant" former president, President Richard Nixon.

Boot opened his screed against the Republican governor – a 2024 presidential election favorite – by comparing him to former President Donald Trump and trying to ascertain who is worse. He wrote, "Already, a poll in New Hampshire shows DeSantis topping Trump. The question, from the standpoint of those of us who have a sentimental attachment to American democracy, is which man is a bigger threat to the republic?"

To find that answer, Boot referred to a New Yorker profile on DeSantis written last month by Dexter Filkins. "Filkins notes that, ‘while Trump, with his lazy, Barnumesque persona, projects a fundamental lack of seriousness, DeSantis has an intense work ethic, a formidable intelligence, and a granular understanding of policy,’" Boot wrote.


Max Boot

Washington Post columnist Max Boot compares Governor Ron DeSantis to former President Donald Trump and former President Richard Nixon. (Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

That assessment seemed to worry Boot, who asked, "But do we really want a president who will work harder and more intelligently to implement a Trumpian agenda? Is it really better to have a president who is relentlessly focused on right-wing bugaboos … rather than one who is easily distracted into braggadocio about his golf game or his flooring?"

For Boot, DeSantis is thus more dangerous than Donald Trump. Considering that Boot wrote a column in 2020 claiming that "Trump is the worst threat to our democracy since the 1930s" and cited Nazi authoritarianism, would this mean that DeSantis is worse than the threat of Nazi Germany?

The columnist cited other descriptions of DeSantis made by colleagues. "A former House colleague said of DeSantis: ‘He’s a little reclusive, a bit of an odd duck … but he’s just incredibly disciplined.’" Another, which Filkins cited in his profile, said "He has always loved embarrassing and humiliating people. I’m speaking for others — he was the biggest d---k we knew."

Boot eventually surmised that these qualities make DeSantis more akin to President Nixon rather than President Trump.

"Actually, the more I read about DeSantis, the more he reminds me not of Trump but of another disgraced Republican president," Boot wrote. He continued, claiming, "Smart and disciplined but reclusive and unpleasant: Who does that remind you of? That’s right: Richard M. Nixon."

Boot claimed that DeSantis’ qualities remind him of Nixon’s unsavory qualities, writing, "I’m thinking of the Nixon who smeared his opponents … and warred with the press. I’m thinking of the Nixon who employed the government against his ‘enemies list.’" He then mentioned the Nixon who "catered to white bigotry."

Ron DeSantis with Donald Trump.

Max Boot wrote that Ron DeSantis is a bigger threat than Donald Trump because he is "smarter" than the former president. (Getty Images)

Boot also wrote that DeSantis is like the Nixon who "exacerbated social division in an attempt to mobilize the Silent Majority against liberal elites."


"DeSantis seems hellbent on carrying on the disreputable legacy of Tricky Dick, and with even less respect for democratic norms than Nixon displayed," the columnist declared. 

Boot mentioned facets of DeSantis’ shrewd political agenda, including when he "signed legislation severely curtailing mask and vaccine mandates for businesses and local governments," when his appointees who control the University of Florida forbade "professors from testifying against DeSantis plans to restrict mask-wearing and voting rights." 

Boot also mentioned an alleged incident "when a pediatrician was as removed from a state board overseeing children’s health insurance after criticizing DeSantis’s outrageous reluctance to provide covid vaccines for children under five."

In addition to these moves, Boot claimed that "DeSantis refuses to say whether President Biden was legitimately elected and criticizes the Jan. 6 committee hearings. He created a special task force to police voter fraud even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud." He also mentioned DeSantis’ "anti-riot" bill pushed in response to Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the DeSantis-supported "Don’t Say Gay" law, his political war with Disney, and other actions. 


President Nixon

Boot claimed that DeSantis was more like the "unpleasant" President Richard Nixon than Donald Trump. (AP Photo)

Boot described those political moves as some "of the most alarming assaults on free speech and academic freedom since the dark days of McCarthyism in the 1950s, when Nixon rose to power." 

"His record reveals a troubling pattern of authoritarianism and vindictiveness that would be extremely dangerous in the Oval Office," the columnist added, before concluding, "Just because DeSantis is smarter than Trump doesn’t mean that he is any less dangerous. In fact, he might be an even bigger threat for that very reason."