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Ruth: Strap on the mudflaps

Let the lame begin. For we who are about to sigh refute you.

Here's the most pressing question of the 2014 campaign for governor. By the time election day arrives Nov. 4, after being inundated with negative commercials, how many of us will be reduced to basket cases curled up in fetal positions?

This isn't going to be a campaign pitting incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott against former Republican governor-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist. The hyper-brainwashing propaganda about to hit the airwaves is going make The Manchurian Candidate look like Sesame Street.

We all know what to expect as each side paints their opponent as a lower life form than a cockfighting promoter. By Nov. 4 it will be a toss-up not so much on who should be governor of Florida but who ought to be sent to the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.

How should we view this political "discourse"? A battle of nits?

All this over a $130,000-a-year job with the fringe benefit of spending quality time with the Florida Legislature — democracy's answer to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks.

The Other Guy As Lucifer campaign has been in full swing for quite some time, and it is only going to get worse.

The Crist camp voters are going to be endlessly reminded that when Scott still had a little bit of hair to work with, as a health care industry executive he exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times during a deposition related to a civil court case.

That would certainly seem to be some juicy stuff. Except four years ago, Democrat Alex Sink also presented Scott's Fifth Amendment speed-dial demurrals as something out of Law & Order: Tallahassee, and it didn't matter. Voters still elected an "I know nothing!" Sgt. Schultz to the Governor's Mansion.

The Scott campaign consiglieres will continue to remind voters that not only was Crist once a Republican but that he embraced enough rigid, doctrinaire GOP talking points to make the tea party look like a Woodstock reunion.

But as with Scott channeling his Fifth Amendment inner Oliver North, Crist's former membership in the Republican Party is hardly a big secret. It didn't dissuade 74 percent of Democratic primary election voters from casting a ballot for him.

Crist has accused Scott of being little more than a willing consort of Tallahassee's powerful lobbying interests. And that is certainly true. But don't you also suspect cynical voters are acutely aware they are electing not so much an officeholder but choosing which conniving cadre of duplicitous lobbyists they prefer to influence the affairs of government?

The Scott camp made great witch-hunting hay over convicted swindler Scott Rothstein's claims that his generous political donations to Crist gave him great sway over judicial nominations, although there is no evidence to support the accusation. But let's face it, truth-in-campaigning has become a rarer commodity than swamp ape sightings.

Considering Rothstein was also a lavish contributor to the Republican Party of Florida, the Scott campaign has not taken the Ponzi scheme desperado to task for those very welcome checks.

There's a theory that even though voters insist they hate the negative commercials portraying a candidate's opponent as a sleazy, bribe-taking, bootlicking poltroon, the ads persist because they work. Think of it as a variation on that great line once uttered by Alice Roosevelt Longworth: "If you can't say something nice about someone, come over here and sit by me."

But even Alice would probably tire of the nattering negative advertising on the airwaves 24 hours a day. Tens of millions of dollars are being spent on ads everyone knows are lies, distortions, half-truths and complete hooey.

It makes you wonder if this is really about electing a governor. Or is this a nine-week audition for the next cast of Game of Gnomes?

Ruth: Strap on the mudflaps 08/29/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2014 7:21pm]

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