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?

Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. Readers may write to him via email at


Load comments