Friday, February 23, 2018
Opinion

Invisible Man vs. Sen. Spacesuit

In an evening filled with out-of-body, parallel universe political piffle, perhaps nothing summed up the sheer Baghdad Bob denial of reality more than Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack wishing he could have more debates with incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Go ahead and slap your forehead. Everyone else already has.

After all, Mack, R-The Invisible Man, has been ducking debates, first with his Republican primary opponents and now Nelson, as if he were being chased around by a process server.

Really now. Mack has been so wary of finding himself in the same area code with any opponents and defending his thin record he probably refuses to tell waiters what he wants to order for fear of taking a position on whole wheat or rye.

How much of a black hole meets a vow of omerta has been Mack? Right about now the McGillicuddy three-wheeler political machine makes former Sen. George LeMieux, who never met a back he didn't want to stab, look like Henry Clay.

Still, there was Mack, whose only real experience in debating seems to be limited to depositions, Wednesday night on the same stage with Nelson pretending he just loves the give and take of political discourse as if he were channeling William F. Buckley.

To be fair, you have to have a certain empathy for Mack, R-Who Am I and Why Am I Here?, whose witness protection attendance record at debates is only rivaled by his attendance record at his day job as a U.S. congressman.

When your entire raison d'etre for claiming to be qualified to sit in the U.S. Senate is grounded in DNA and the family tree, it's awkward to run around the state holding up a poster of your double helix as a campaign prop.

Connie Mack IV is, of course, the offspring of Connie Mack III, who is a former U.S. senator. And that, brothers and sisters, is the only reason the younger Roman numeral is remotely within a sucker punch of pulling off an upset of Nelson.

If Mack's name was Lester P. Snagglepants, this chap couldn't get elected to president of the Chernobyl homeowner association. That probably explains why IV's performance the other evening pretty much consisted of burping up lines from his television commercials attacking Nelson as an acolyte of the Karl Marx administration.

This was like trying to debate an answering machine.

Eventually an exasperated Nelson, who had to feel he was sharing the dais with the late ventriloquist Senor Wences' left hand, asked his opponent: "Is that the only line you have memorized?" As a matter of fact, yes, it was.

For his part, Nelson never misses an opportunity to remind voters he once flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia. It's a mystery why he doesn't show up for these things in his old flight suit.

Nelson managed to work in his rocket man bona fides in response to a question about Cuba, but the senator could just as easily have been asked about solid waste funding and he would still wax Carl Sagan-like about the endless bounds of the galaxy and the exquisite beauty of God's universe.

And for the record, Nelson is still mighty annoyed with the Castro boys, just in case you were curious.

Eventually the loosely described debate, which had all the production quality of a Yeehaw Junction public access channel, between Sen. Jetson and an opponent who hasn't had an original thought since: "That Mary Bono is kinda hot," came to a blessed end.

Mack's dubious claims he would love to go mano-a-mano several times more with Nelson until Election Day to the contrary, as a practical matter, would likely do little good. And would anyone really care?

Is there any appetite to watch a robotic Mack replaying his campaign catch phrases for fear of stepping beyond a comfort zone that pretty much begins and ends with — "Obama bad, ergo Nelson bad, and I have the same last name as my dad."

And do we really need to hear yet again in response to a question about farm subsidies Nelson recalling how much he loves the smell of Tang in the morning?

No thank you. No need for an instant replay. The singular Drivel in Davie was quite more than enough.

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