On Thursday, Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” mocked fans of Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, saying that someone who listened to DeSantis was “Cletus the slack-jawed yokel,” ostensibly referencing the “stereotypical redneck” character from “The Simpsons.”
As Mark Finkelstein of Newsbusters reported, Scarborough criticized DeSantis for standing up for parents making the decision as to whether their children should wear masks in schools, somehow turning the issue inside out and hilariously claiming that DeSantis, by letting the parents decide instead of virtually everyone else, was a “socialist”:
I’m a parent, and I certainly hope that my kids, and kids in their classes, are going to be able to wear masks. If that is, in fact, what mandate the teachers and the students, the local school board, local school board, imagine that, decisions being made on the local level, imagine that, decisions being made by parents, teachers, principals and students, imagine that. Why that almost sounds like a conservative concept.
But ol’ Ron, he says no. The power of the state, socialism rules, we’re going to decide everything from 1,000 miles away. It’s no more conservative, actually, than good ol’ Ron, Socialist Ron, saying, hey, if you were a business, you have no control over how you keep your business safe. I will ban you from taking safety precautions that you think will keep people inside your business safe and that you think will help your bottom line. Big Republicanism? I guess so. Sounds like socialism to me.
MSNBC’s Willie Geist then played a heavily-edited clip of DeSantis, which was edited from the original statement in which DeSantis ripped President Biden after Biden had told him to “Get out of the way”:
Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID. … What is his big solution? What is he so upset about Florida? His solution is he wants to have the government force kindergarteners to wear masks in school. … He thinks that should be a decision for the government. Well I can tell you that in Florida, the parents are going to be the ones in charge of that decision. … So why don’t you do your job, why don’t you get this border secure, and until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.
MSNBC’s clip conveniently left out DeSantis saying, “He doesn’t believe the parents should have a say in that,” as well as saying, “But let me tell you this, if you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way, I’m not going to let you get away with it.If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in -person education, I’m going to stand in your way and I’m going to stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people, impose mandates, if you’re trying to ruin their jobs and their livelihoods and their small business, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way and I’m standing for the people of Florida.”
Scarborough continued, mocking, “I mean, who, who was he talking to? Cletus the slack-jawed yokel?”
It’s not clear from the context that Scarborough is aware he is using a “Simpsons” reference, but the Cletus Spuckler character is well known for being a “hillbilly,” according to the show’s fan wiki, and farms dirt for a living. It is implied, in the series, that he is the victim of some sort of debilitating illness affecting his mental faculties and that he and his wife are related.
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