Thursday, July 19, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Florida's sad U.S. Senate candidates

This probably explains why a newbie politician like Carlos Beruff, who is polling somewhere between a black hole and the Mariana Trench in his bid to claim the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, made the brilliant decision to channel his inner Strom Thurmond.

Beruff was trolling for votes recently in St. Johns County when he said this about President Barack Obama: ". . . this animal we call president, because he's an animal, okay . . ."

Some candidates seek attention by offering well-thought out policies, or delivering exciting speeches, or kissing babies. Why bother with that, when you can cut to the chase?

And here's the best part. When a Democratic Senate candidate, Rep. Patrick Murphy, called out Beruff, an apologist for the Sarasota politician lashed out at Murphy for "name calling."

Let's review. Beruff throws a racial slur toward the president of the United States and then gets all faux huffy when everyone takes note of his boorishness?

From a perverse point of view you have to appreciate Beruff's rhetorical conundrum. It simplifies things for the aspiring hack politician to go all Mel Gibson in Obama's general direction. Instead the euphemism/metaphor-challenged Beruff must cast about for other words and phrases in his quest to channel his inner Jefferson Davis.

From the moment Obama set foot on the national stage he has been subjected to a level of racially hate-filled semiotics no other president has ever had to endure — images of him as an ape, surrounded by watermelon and fried chicken, as an Islamic terrorist, or with a noose around his neck.

Perhaps Beruff was trying to channel his inner Donald Trump. After all, it was the Silvio Berlusconi of Gotham, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who peddled the "birther" conspiracy theory that Obama was not a U.S. citizen. Who knew Kenya had annexed Hawaii? If paranoia could launch a presidential nomination, why couldn't some old-fashioned bigotry get Beruff to the Senate?

Obama is fair game for criticism. Don't like the Affordable Care Act? Fine. You believe the president caved on the Iranian nuke deal? Have a nice time. And the whole Cuba thing? Take your best shot. Nor is Obama immune to parody and satire. See Saturday Night Live. On second thought, forget SNL and go straight to Comedy Central's Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.

If Beruff is campaigning as if he is channelling his inner Foghorn Leghorn meets Don Rickles, what does it say about how he would comport himself if he actually made it to Capitol Hill? For all its shortcomings it is still the U.S. Senate. It's not the drooling Michael Savage Show.

A 58-year-old politician did not grasp the racially charged implications of referring to the nation's first black president, who has been the object of bigoted insults for his entire presidency, as an "animal?" Is Beruff that oblivious? Or that stupid?

The race to succeed Sen. Marco Rubio has attracted a hall of mirrors of ambition.

Pinellas Republican Rep. David Jolly has ignited a firestorm of indifference by suggesting members of Congress should do their jobs. Former CIA sniper Todd Wilcox seems to be campaigning on the platform that he could kill you with his tonsils, if he wanted. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera made the bold claim that while he never killed anyone with his adenoids, he did once suspend a bunch of people. And Rep. Ron DeSantis is wooing votes by opposing a deal with Cuba to cooperate with the U.S. in the event of an oil spill. That's right, destroy Key West with sludge. That ought to teach those Cuban commies a thing or two.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Alan Grayson is fending off allegations he used his congressional office as a subsidiary of Daddy Warbucks Investments. Meanwhile, Murphy went to his father and said something like: "Oh daddy, I want a Senate seat! I want a Senate seat! I want a Senate seat!" and the old man wrote some big checks just to shut the kid up.

Then there is the ham-handed politician Carlos Beruff, channeling his inner Jesse Helms.

Welcome to Flori-blah-blah-blah.

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