Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Politics

Romano: If you don't like this column, I blame my spokesperson

Et tu, Patrick Murphy?

You're a U.S. Senate candidate with a name recognizable in roughly 7.4 percent of Florida homes, and already you're hiding behind a spokeswoman's written statements?

Granted, I understand the embarrassment of preaching against our campaign finance system while your rich dad pours money into a super PAC supporting your campaign.

But you know what's worse than a hypocrite?

A cowardly hypocrite.

Seriously, why is it expected, and accepted, for politicians to duck questions and issues? When did the role of a spokesperson morph into the job of a human shield? Who thinks that hiding in a boardroom is a sign of leadership?

• • •

It is November, 1863. The nation is bloodied and divided.

Imagine a spokesman appearing at the dedication of the Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa., because President Abraham Lincoln is worried about optics.

"Good afternoon. Eighty-seven years ago, a number of individuals got together …"

• • •

Murphy, of course, is not alone.

Emails, tweets and telegenic proxies have become the default response to controversy. Heaven forbid elected officials take responsibility for mistakes or positions.

Just in the past few weeks, the state's attorney general has lost a case on behalf of the governor (trying to suspend a political appointee for no apparent reason), was caught in a controversy over a previous campaign donation from Donald Trump while she was supposedly investigating his faux university, and cost taxpayers a hefty chunk of money for her ill-advised fight in support of the state's unconstitutional gay marriage ban.

Amid all these headlines, we've heard often from Pam Bondi's spokeswoman.

Yet not a word from the attorney general herself.

• • •

It is West Berlin in 1987. The Cold War has lasted a generation. Imagine a spokesman passing along the message that President Ronald Reagan sees the Berlin Wall as a symbol of communism's failure.

"The president is curious about Mr. Gorbachev's feelings about this wall …''

• • •

Obviously, I'm joking. But just a little.

Failing to answer reasonable questions about legitimate issues shows a remarkable contempt for the very voters that candidates are habitually courting. It shows an absence of confidence. An obsession with image over duty. A lack of accountability.

Take Marco Rubio. His entire career is built on pointing fingers at everyone he claims is responsible for letting Americans down.

And yet South Florida courts are facing an emergency backlog because Rubio has blocked a judicial nomination. This has been going on for more than a year, and Rubio still refuses to explain why he's holding up a nominee he recommended.

At this point, Rubio is not just neglecting his duties, he's ignoring his constituents.

As for Murphy, just face the music. Explain that the only way to fix campaign finance laws is by getting elected in the first place. It may sound smarmy, but it's better than looking like a wuss.

And if Murphy has a problem with that characterization, he's free to call me.

My spokesperson will get back to him immediately.

     
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