Monday, February 19, 2018
Opinion

Partisan posing as governor

As a master of perfect timing, Florida Gov. Rick Scott makes Gen. George Custer look like the Duke of Wellington.

And if Scott keeps up his track record of bloviating and erroneous propaganda, he might well become the Baghdad Bob of the Apalachee Parkway.

In a hand-wringing letter that hit mailboxes this week, Gov. Haw-Haw was appalled. He was annoyed. And just a tad miffed. Foul-voter-fraud-play was afoot, he wrote, by sneaky Democrats, aided and abetted by nefarious (remove the children from the room) liberals. Oh dear.

Scott took pen in hand to issue a manifesto of phooey, decrying what he perceived to be efforts by the party opposite and its comrades to subvert the election process by allowing noncitizens to vote.

Scott suggested Chicago was even worse, noting "it is well known that dead people and noncitizens cast ballots 'early and often.' " Well, it's a cute line, even though it's not true — at least not lately. Besides, everybody in Chicago knows the dearly departed are Republicans anyway.

But for pure piffle, wrapped in fiddle-faddle and enshrouded in claptrap, even Scott managed to top himself when it comes to hypocrisy by insisting, "I don't view the world through a partisan lens."

(Reader advisory: This is probably a good spot for a spit-take.)

This odd burst of faux nonpartisanship rings a bit hollow for a pol who has practically relocated the governor's mansion to the Villages.

About the time the public received the governor's rambling missive, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was reviewing suspicious voter registration forms filed by a Republican vendor, Strategic Allied Consulting.

To date, dubious voter registration forms collected by Strategic Allied Consulting have been unearthed in about a dozen counties stretching from South Florida to the Panhandle. FDLE launched a formal criminal investigation this week.

Many of the forms cited mythical addresses and at least one (ahem) was for a voter who had long since passed on to that Chicago ward precinct in the sky.

Yet, while Scott's letter was waxing ridiculous about the sanctity of the voting booth, his own party was busily at work trying to cook the books. This was a bit like Mexico's Zetas cartel claiming to be outraged over epidemic drug trafficking, oblivious to all the shooting in the streets.

Nor is the governor particularly concerned by his own party's plot to wage a specious war against the retention of three Florida Supreme Court justices, Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince, whose only crime seems to be they were appointed to the bench by a Democrat, Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Republicans have dredged up a long-ago criminal case they claim the court botched in their ruling to justify removing the justices. But that is merely a craven canard to pave the way for Scott to pack the court with conservative fellow travelers.

No politics there!

As the titular head of the Florida GOP, Scott could easily have disavowed the smear campaign against the justices and ordered it to be stopped. But he was too busy looking up how to spell "appalled" in the dictionary.

The governor insisted that even one instance of voter fraud is "too many." How nice.

But when his own party is up to its ascots engaging in vote fraud, Scott's missionary zeal comes off flatter than a bucket of warm beer. Rather than vigorously condemn the GOP vote fraud and the baseless, politically motivated campaign against the Florida justices, the governor has turned into the Marcel Marceau of elective ethics.

Scott's letter isn't a statement of principles, but of principal. To fight against his imaginary foes, Scott asks recipients of his note to contribute to the Republican Party of Florida. Any amount will do, but $1,000 would be simply swell.

To be fair, considering the legal bills likely to be associated with a FDLE criminal investigation into the tainted voter registration forms, it's understandable why Scott would be shilling for the party.

The governor concludes his three-card monte solicitation by fretting over how the voter fraud debate has turned into "circus sideshow." He's quite right about that. Ringmaster Rick Scott has the uncomfortable role of having to clean up the mess after the GOP elephant parade.

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