Turns Out, America Wasn’t Ready for Its First Robot President

I’ve never seen a stranger campaign than Ron DeSantis’ robotic, failed attempts at lib-owning. It seems the presidency is one job AI can't replace...yet.

Turns Out, America Wasn’t Ready for Its First Robot President

Welp, the people have spoken, and despite all the hype around Chat GPT, America wasn’t ready for its first robot president: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended (aborted??) his presidential campaign on Sunday, officially terminating the Ron-Bot 3000. Yes, very sad. Anyway. While my colleague Susan Rinkunas effectively rounded up how DeSantis tried and failed miserably to run on anti-abortion extremism, I am here to reflect on what was probably the strangest presidential campaign I’ve ever borne witness to. I was only a child when Howard Dean performed his now-infamous, campaign-ending scream, but DeSantis’ campaign honestly felt like 50 of those screams… per week. Or at least it felt like that whenever he spoke to children or tried to crack a smile at a debate.

As one Twitter user put it, DeSantis “taught me it’s not actually okay to be weird, you’re scaring people.” It seems the electorate wasn’t ready for its first awkward, deeply anti-social president (or, I guess, its first since Nixon), who happened to be running against a literal reality TV star famous for his populist charm and effortless (albeit terrifying) ability to work a crowd. The country—or at least Republican primary voters—just wasn’t ready to shatter that next glass ceiling and elect a fascist, robotic freak, even if it’s a model that rushed to sign the most heinously cruel and bigoted bills into law and cynically believed that owning the libs hard enough could win him the presidency. Rest in Peace, Ron-Bot. Let’s commemorate some of his strangest moments and malfunctions on the trail…

  • Pudding fingers: I don’t know, but when you’re christened with the nickname “pudding fingers” over a rumor that you consume chocolate pudding cups with three fingers, your campaign is pretty much dead in the water. In March, a couple of months before DeSantis’ campaign even launched, the Daily Beast reported on his pudding-eating behavior, which allegedly took place on a private plane. Eventually, Piers Morgan had to ask DeSantis about it, to which the governor replied, “I don’t remember ever doing that, maybe when I was a kid.” It all culminated in one of the strangest and sadly, most effective, Trump ads I’ve ever seen.
  • Pummeled by Trump: From Ron “DeSanctimonius” to Tiny D, as well as a constant barrage of attack ads and social media posts including a call for DeSantis to receive an “emergency personality transplant,” Trump saw DeSantis as his top rival early on and acted accordingly. And he didn’t stop, until, through one humiliation after another, DeSantis ceased to be a threat. Back in May, Trump’s son Don Jr. even waded into the cyberbullying fest, sharing a clip from The Office in which Michael Scott inadvertently wears a women’s blazer, except he used some AI program to replace Scott’s face with DeSantis to allege that he wears high-heeled women’s boots to compensate for his height. Trump also mocked DeSantis’ failed Twitter Spaces campaign launch—which was plagued with technical difficulties—by creating an AI version of the launch in which DeSantis is joined by Hitler, gay Satan, George Soros, and Dick Cheney, among others. And in February, the former president even went so far as to suggest DeSantis was a groomer, sharing Truth Social posts that implied DeSantis hung out with and supplied alcohol to high school girls.

    Now that DeSantis has withdrawn from the race, we’re to believe that everything’s fine between the two: When asked if he’d still call DeSantis “DeSanctimonius” on Sunday night, Trump cheerfully declared the pet name is “retired” now that DeSantis has endorsed him. I don’t know, it’s pretty telling that Trump would accept the endorsement of a man he’s unsubtly called a pedophile and cross-dresser.

  • Never beating the 5’7” allegations: Speaking of allegedly cross-dressing, I’ve got absolutely no problems with DeSantis or any man wearing the high-heeled boots that women tend to wear. It was only weird because DeSantis devoted so much energy toward policing drag and gender-affirming care. It was also weird because I’ve never seen someone so desperate to be tall that it actually made them seem several inches shorter. If DeSantis is, in fact, 5’8” or 5’9” as he’s rumored to be, his palpable yearning to hit 6’0” made him look 5’6”.

    In any case, on top of DeSantis’ total void of charisma and the relentless atomic wedgies that Trump subjected him to, his footwear and the internet height investigations might have doomed his campaign, too. You just don’t come back from viral TikToks and Twitter threads breaking down human anatomy, diagraming your leg, and effectively proving that you wear shoe lifts.

  • Chiding a kid for their sugary beverage: There are many viral clips of DeSantis being a total weirdo—for example, the doctored clip so realistic that it’s widely accepted as canon where DeSantis is given a plate of food and seemingly says, “Mm, hungwy.” Or, of course, the clips of him attempting and failing to conjure a normal smile on the debate stage. But the one that will always take the cake for me is DeSantis telling a small child at a state fair, “That’s a lot of sugar, huh?” referring to the child’s Icee. He then says, “Good to see ya,” and walks away. If you lack the basic people skills to manage a normal conversation with a literal child, I just don’t see you winning the votes you need for the presidency, buddy.
  • Beefing with a New Hampshire teen: Speaking of not getting along with children, who can forget the 15-year-old boy in New Hampshire who alleged that DeSantis’ campaign staff physically man-handled him for asking the governor ostensibly difficult questions about the Jan. 6 insurrection? The teen, Quinn Mitchell, further claimed that he was stalked and harassed by DeSantis campaign staff when he showed up to future events. (Perhaps in DeSantis’ defense, robots don’t see children—only enemies and potential threats to be neutralized.) In the end, Mitchell won: DeSantis dropped two days before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

He may have pulled the plug on his campaign, but we’ll always have those signature Ron-Bot moments. In any case, while DeSantis switches over his settings from “presidential candidate” mode back to “Florida governor” mode, I’m left with these lingering questions in the aftermath of his campaign:

I hope we get our answers someday. Until then, I’m counting down the days til Ron-Bot’s first, delightfully uncomfortable campaign stop for Trump.

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