Before DeSantis, Miami was fun

Let’s be grateful that Ron DeSantis devotes so much of his time raging over drag queens and bragging how he punished Disney for disagreeing with him. An obsessive pursuit of “woke” has kept the Florida governor and apparent presidential candidate from mucking around serious matters. But, sadly, not always. 

DeSantis shocked many foreign policy experts, including some in his Republican Party, after characterizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a mere territorial dispute between two countries and of not much import to America. Cozying up to Tucker Carlson, DeSantis obediently mimicked the Fox News celebrity’s on-air opinion, whether the governor and/or Carlson believed it and/or not. 

When Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, then-Rep. DeSantis offered a very different view. “We in the Congress have been urging the president, I’ve been, to provide arms to Ukraine,” he said back then. “They want to fight their good fight.” 

For DeSantis, spending grown-up time on a threat to the Western alliance might seem an unwanted distraction from his main theme of waging a comic-book war against “woke.” For example, his administration has just revoked the Hyatt Regency Miami’s alcohol license because it hosted “A Drag Queen Christmas.” 

The theatrical displeasure centered on the presence of young people in the audience. That the minors had to be accompanied by an adult did not apparently matter to the ministers of Miami morality. To DeSantis, the parental right to make such judgements is a sometimes thing, rhetoric to the contrary. 

How fortunate that “Some Like It Hot” was made in 1959 and not 2023. It has Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressed in drag to hide from the mob as they scamper through the “Seminole Ritz Hotel” in Miami. Their exaggerated portrayals of women are hilarious to those with an intact sense of humor. 

In one scene, Osgood Fielding III, a besotted rich yachtsman played by Joe E. Brown, proposes marriage to Lemon dressed as “Daphne.” An exasperated Lemmon pulls off his wig and declares, “I’m a man!” to which Brown replies, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” 

One can’t imagine such gender-bending horseplay getting by the censors in a DeSantis-ized Miami. 

Did the movie include performers “wearing sexually suggesting clothing” as specified in the charges against the Hyatt’s drag queen show? It did, but the performer was Marilyn Monroe singing “I Wanna Be Loved By You” in an almost-dress, her gender identification unmistakable. 

If Shakespeare’s works are not to the Florida governor’s taste, just as well. Some of the bard’s female characters disguised themselves as men. And back in Elizabethan days, male actors took on female roles because women were not allowed on the stage. The term “in drag” originally referred to male actors wearing long skirts that dragged on the stage floor. 

DeSantis might want to address the Bugs Bunny problem. On over 40 occasions, the “wacky wabbit” cavorts in female dress, most memorably as the Brazilian samba queen, Carmen Miranda. 

We also had Donald Duck playing a “femme fatale” in “The Three Caballeros,” a cartoon that sailed by the censors in 1944. Donald Duck is a product of the evil Disney studios, so going after him might seem a win-win in the DeSantis mindset. 

The big risk for DeSantis is making his opponent Donald Trump seem deep by comparison. Trump was in Iowa talking about ethanol. He warned that DeSantis was against Social Security. “That’s a bad one,” Trump added, rubbing it in. 

As bystanders in the political farce consuming much of the Republican race for president, we can give thanks that DeSantis has decided to battle against the sinister forces of wokeness and leave the important issues pretty much alone. 

But too bad about Miami. It used to be fun. 

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.