Thursday, April 19, 2018
Politics

Gov. Scott goes to school for Charlie's charm offensive

From the desk of Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Dear (new mom, new lawyer, Lotto winner, business owner or state employee whose job I know so little about I asked your boss to write that part for me):

Congrats on the big whatever good thing just happened to you! Say, have I told you what a good job I've done as governor? And by the way, wasn't the guy before me just awful?

Anyhoo, congrats!

Very, very sincerely,

Your pal,

Rick*

(*Not an actual letter from the governor.)

For the past year, Florida's governor has been availing himself of the gubernatorial stationery big time.

Recent graduates, Floridians getting business or professional licenses, new lawyers — they get an official shout-out in the form of a note from Scott, who, by the way, is in a tough race for re-election.

Nice, right? Nothing like a letter from a Really Important Person to make a body feel special.

Did I mention that part about re-election?

Because given the self-promotional content of some of those attaboys, a cynical sort might think this letter-writing endeavor has as much to do with campaigning as congratulating.

In letters to new lawyers, Scott mentions oh-by-the-way the sorry state of this state before he took office after Gov. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

You know, the guy now facing off against Scott.

Scott writes about how focused he is on "keeping Florida's economy moving in the right direction" and other talking points.

By then, the letter reader must be thinking: Um, didn't this at least start out being about me?

It's like receiving a tasteful wedding invitation on thick, creamy stationery and feeling really special to be invited, then finding a note inside telling you to bring a six-pack to the reception.

Certainly governors prior, and plenty of other politicians, have taken advantage of sitting in the official seat and sending salutations on Sunshine State stationery. Except, according to news reports, Scott's letters are more extensive in scope and on the campaign stuff — like how in the four years before he got in, Florida lost about a gazillion jobs.

Did somebody say Charlie Crist?

Because what sure looks clumsy and transparent here only emphasizes what Scott faces against the Crist charm offensive (not that Crist won't take his licks on party-switching or policy shifts.)

While Scott can come off as awkward and out-of-touch, the former governor meets a stranger, gives a twinkly tip of a wink and ends up earnestly expressing sympathy for that person's great-grandmother's recent bout of bursitis. I exaggerate, but only a little.

Scott's letter-writing (pardon the expression) campaign has some grumbling about PR on the taxpayer dime. But if you ask me, he really missed out on the nuance and the power of note-writing.

We text, we tweet, but there is still something undeniably nice about a well-written and genuine note of regard. Even in a cyber-driven world, a hard-copy letter from the governor should be something to save, to show to your kids one day.

Otherwise, it's like just another cheap campaign flier, taking up space in the mailbox.

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