Sunday, May 20, 2018
Politics

Rick Scott now our warm and fuzzy governor?

Seriously, are we that easy?

Can it be that all the man who has been called the least-liked governor in America had to do was whip off his tie, ditch the suit, unbutton a few buttons of that starchy Brooks Brothers shirt and flash a twinkly smile — and we're all his?

Can it be that Florida Gov. Rick Scott had only to imitate a former governor's work-a-day schtick and dole out doughnuts from behind a counter, deign to speak with newspaper editorial boards, back off gutting education for a minute and chat on talk radio — and we're smitten?

Okay, so "smitten" is an exaggeration when it comes to how we Floridians currently feel about the governor. But for this new version of the New Governor, things are looking up.

Fair to say Scott did not make the best early impression in these parts as a millionaire first-time politician who won the governor's mansion by a whisker with the support of the tea party. Then he got to work running our state like a corporation rather than a place where people actually, you know, live.

Combine Scott's shadowy persona with moves that angered everyone from teachers to state workers to environmentalists to advocates for the poor to believers in high-speed rail, and people were calling him Lord Voldemort, the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named villain of Harry Potter fame. Rumors circulated about an actual invisibility cloak.

At a recent Tampa hearing over an outrageous new law limiting early voting and suppressing registration — one expected to, surprise, also suppress the Democratic vote — Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin expressed disappointment that the governor who signed it declined to show up and testify. This got a laugh from the audience. (Have you met our governor?)

Scott's approval ratings hovered at the bottom of the pile, 29 percent last May and 33 percent in December. Some smart Scottsters saw it was time for a makeover and ordered up the political version of a mani-pedi, a day cruising the aisles at Sephora and a team of nip-and-tuckers to have at him.

Voila.

Scott, who found new ways to alienate teachers last year, has lately made noises about understanding the importance of schools to this state. He wisely emphasizes jobs, something everyone wants to hear and about as safe as saying sunshine sure is nice. He's gone all Regular Joe on us, borderline chatty even.

Just this week, here was the Gov (I hear that's what he wants us to call him now) romping around the Florida State Fairgrounds and indulging in an impromptu square dance.

And no, I did not make that up.

Does it work? Last month, a Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll showed his numbers climbing, if not by leaps then at least to a more respectable 43 percent of voters approving of his first year. As a pollster put it: "The makeover's working."

We have three more years of New Scott to see if there's any real change from the man who thought drug testing state workers and welfare recipients are really fine ideas. It's like one of those handwringing boyfriend-advice stories on the cover of Cosmopolitan — Can He Really Change?

In our hearts, we relationship savvy voters probably already know the answer.

Comments
By David Nakamura, The Washington Post.

By David Nakamura, The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Updated: 4 hours ago
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18
Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

With six months to go before the Nov. 6 election, Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell on Monday dropped her bid against Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard for the at-large District 2 seat.Caudell said she decided she’d better be better suited f...
Published: 05/14/18
Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

To: The Honorable Gov. Rick ScottDear Governor,It has come to my attention that your administration has recently made some, dare I say, innovative hires for important government positions in the months before you leave office.At the risk of sounding ...
Published: 05/14/18