Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Opinion

Daniel Ruth: Political sellouts all the rage

Perhaps what Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has proved is the truth of that old adage that we all have a price. It's only a matter of negotiation.

In the commissioner's case it would seem Putnam will roll over like a Shih Tzu begging for a chewy treat for the modest price of a contribution to his campaign to become either Florida's next governor, or perhaps the state's official dancing monkey for the National Rifle Association.

Good Adam, good Adam. Good boy! Aren't you simply adorable?

It appears Putnam was a bit flummoxed over some recent scribblings in this space that suggested he had become something of a willing political courtesan in the service of the NRA given his full-throated embrace of not only the concept of open carry of weapons on our streets, but also permitting people to carry guns on the state's university campuses.

Indeed, Putnam has curled up next to the NRA to get his ears rubbed despite pleas from the law enforcement community, as well as the state's university presidents, administrators and faculty organizations that open- and campus-carry is a really dense idea that will only endanger public safety and make everyone's jobs harder and riskier.

But Putnam appears not to care. Not when there is a campaign to be run and disingenuous pandering to be waged. And yes, Commissioner Putnam will have another Snausage, please. And a tummy rub, too.

He seemed peeved at the suggestion he could be bought off, deeming it a cruel attack by the "liberal media," which is always a popular default alibi when a pol has been caught with his scruples down.

So it was that Putnam decided to use the hashtag "#NRASellout!" to hustle for dollars from the rootin' tootin' gun crowd.

You have to admit it is a pretty rare thing for any politician, who would normally advance the image of a fiercely independent candidate indifferent to the callous entreaties of deep-pocketed special interests, to so gleefully and willfully acknowledge he is so ripe for the plucking.

But there was Adam Putnam happily portraying himself as a walking Kmart bluelight special of the stump.

Oddly enough, since Putnam has not been particularly vocal about the open- and campus-carry debates in the Florida Legislature it's a bit odd he would suddenly appear to be channeling his inner Charlton Heston to appease the NRA now that he is officially running for governor.

So it would seem Putnam, fearing the potential gubernatorial candidacies of Republican opponents like House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Florida state Sen. Jack Latvala and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, is endeavoring to position himself so far to the right he makes Rush Limbaugh look like Bernie Sanders. And if that means turning himself into a compliant handmaiden to the NRA for the sake of 30 pieces of silver, so be it.

There's a profile in mealy-mouthed mush for you.

Indeed, if Putnam is so eager to advertise his ready availability to sell out his principles, whom else will he invite to purchase a time share of what's left of the candidate's integrity?

Over the course of the Adam Putnam one-man Home Shopping Network campaign for governor, can we expect to see future hashtags emerging from the candidate, perhaps along the lines of "#BigSugarSellout!"

Will Putnam brim with enthusiasm when he introduces "#KochBrothersSellout!"?

How soon before the Putnam hustings brain trust rolls out "#InsuranceIndustrySellout!"? An anxious body politic awaits.

It's a long campaign, to be sure. Plenty of time for the Opie of Lock & Load to corner the "#CharterSchoolSellout!"

And, of course, the commissioner could create a sort of omnibus, all-purpose monicker to make things easier to capture a slice of his self-respect with "#WhatchagotSellout!"

Most public figures seeking higher office perpetuate the charade that they are out there in the political arena fighting for this, fighting for that, raging against the powers that be to stand up for the great unwashed.

This candidate has demonstrated he isn't willing to fight for much of anything, especially when it comes to commonsense public safety measures.

Putnam simply skipped all that political rhetorical fiddle-faddle by blissfully admitting his beliefs, his values, his positions are ahem, flexible, especially if there is a check to be donated to "#WhateverSellout!"

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