Make us your home page
Daniel Ruth

Cannon makes more noise than sense

Good grief, if this foaming at the mouth had gone on much longer, newly minted Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon would have started decrying communists in the State Department and offering up dark warnings about the Trilateral Commission.

Uh, Mr. Speaker? Your job running the Florida House is supposed to be all about hot walking developer interests, giving pedicures to the insurance industry and blowing air kisses to all those bankers sitting in the gallery.

But there was Cannon, doing his best "give me a campaign contribution or give me death!" diatribe during this week's legislative special session, otherwise known as the "Let's shaft Charlie Crist'" cocktail hour.

Cannon, an attorney, who apparently went to the Spike's School of Barristery and Small Motor Repair, reserved his extra-special ire for the Florida Supreme Court, which had the audacity to apply the law to stuff. Such fuddy-duddies.

Earlier this year, the court tossed off the ballot three Legislature-sponsored amendments. One was a redistricting proposal designed to protect incumbents that directly conflicted with two citizen initiatives. A second proposal would have allowed property tax exemptions to certain home-owners and a third was designed to prevent Floridians from being compelled to purchase health insurance.

The court rejected all three amendment proposals because they were either deliberately misleading or confusing to voters. Well now, you can't very well expect lawmakers to actually write laws that people can understand, can you? No good can come from this.

So peeved was Cannon, R-Tail Gunner Dean, that the court had obstructed efforts by the Legislature to pass off a bunch of phooey on the electorate, he used the occasion of his ascendency to the speakership to whine about the Supreme Court during his inaugural remarks.

The speaker raised the dark specter of "threats to our liberties" when five conniving, conspiring, duplicitous and unelected judges can so willfully undermine legislative proposals, written by the finest lobbyists money can buy, that not even Stephen Hawking could figure out.

Missing only a coonskin cap and a flintlock musket, Cannon fretted about socialists taking over the government and fiddle-faddled over the prospect of losing our "sovereignty." And no, that wasn't the sound of black helicopters hovering over the Capitol. It was only the speaker's double burrito lunch coming back for a visit.

The speaker even managed to work in a reference to serfdom.

Sitting only a few feet away from Cannon, R-Sufferin' Succotash!, was none other than Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, a former Republican Florida House member and congressman, who swore (in more ways than one, probably) the new speaker into office.

Are you beginning to get the feeling Cannon's tenure as speaker may make one wistful for the Golden Age of leaders of the House, like Johnnie Byrd, who made Benny Hill seem like a Founding Father?

It couldn't have been comfortable for Canady to have to sit there and listen to the hysterical rant of a petulant crybaby in dire need of some Xanax to go with his tea. After all, all the court had done was strike down some goofy proposed amendments. This wasn't something out of Red Dawn.

When it was pointed out to Cannon, R-"I'm getting vewry, vewry angry," that he had just displayed less class than John Daly's golf trouser provider meets Kanye West, the new speaker disingenuously dismissed his tantrum as simply an effort to initiate a "dialogue" with the high court. That's a bit like Torquemada insisting he burned all those accused apostates at the pillar for the sake of ecumenical discourse.

Telling the Florida Supreme Court and its chief justice that they are basically a bunch of chuckleheads isn't exactly extending an olive branch of comity.

At the same time, we have been treated to an exercise in civic illiteracy by one of the most powerful public officials in the state, whose grasp of the law does not appear to extend to understanding justices are prohibited by law from having ex parte communications on any issue that may well find its way before the court.

Just what kind of "dialogue" does Cannon expect to have with the Florida Supreme Court? Hand puppets? Charades? Mental telepathy?

Alas, Cannon isn't the first Florida speaker to believe that his ego trumps ethical considerations, or who fails to appreciate the balance of power among three branches of government laid out in the Constitution.

With such a cavalier attitude, Cannon would be wise to consider the only real potential threat to his freedom is himself.

Cannon makes more noise than sense 11/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 7:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours