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Daniel Ruth

Scott's phony outrage

Apparently it doesn't take much to shock Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, who is attempting to turn himself into a hand-wringing, whining Wee Willie Winkie of the hustings. • It makes you wonder if Scott would get his debentures into a wad after being confronted by a testy Bichon Frise. • The Lurch of the stump was supposedly flabbergasted, bumfuddled and completely discombobulated the other night during his debate with Democrat Alex Sink when he noticed during a commercial break that the candidate had glanced at a cell phone text message handed to her by a makeup artist in violation of the agreed-upon rules.

Was this a boo-boo? Sure. Should Sink have looked at the message from a campaign aide essentially reminding her to be tougher in responding to the Luca Brasi of health care? Absolutely not. It was wrong, shouldn't have done it. Bad, bad Alex. You naughty girl, you.

And let's all throw in a clucking harrumph for good measure, too.

But among all the Sturm und Drang over Sink's momentary use of a cyber crib sheet, could just a pinch of perspective prevail? Good grief, it is not as if someone slipped Sink the nuclear codes. This wasn't a Wikileaks document dump. This wasn't a Cold War dead drop of secret CIA papers to be collected by Soviet spies.

This was simply a campaign aide urging Sink to stop acting like Aunt Bea and more aggressively attack Scott, the Pancho Villa of bedpans.

For breaching the debate rules, Sink dispatched the offending aide, insurance lobbyist Brian May, from the inner sanctum of her campaign. That means the poor man must now return to his original job making gobs of money schmoozing Tallahassee pols.

If we lived in the real world of adults, Sink's misstep would be simply dismissed as an unfortunate gaffe, which in the end had zero effect on the debate and will have even less impact by Election Day.

Alas, this is a political campaign for governor of Florida, which probably explains why Scott is trying to turn the cell phone kerfuffle into the stump's version of a war crime meets Watergate.

For all his feigned indignity, Scott does shock and appall with all the sincerity of my goldendoodle pretending she's contrite after she's been caught raiding the garbage.

After all, while Scott is acting as if Sink had given him a hot foot, short-sheeted his bed and stolen his lunch money, this is same guy who presided over a company that was indicted in the largest Medicare fraud scheme in United States history, which led to $1.7 billion in fines.

And while Scott blithely dismisses his association with a corrupt corporation with the alibi he should have hired more bean-counters, the candidate gets all lathered up over a momentary glitch.

Scott certainly has expressed zero shock when the company he ran was engaged in a massive rip-off of American taxpayers. Good grief, Scott can't even work up a pinch of chagrin.

Nor has Scott demonstrated even a little appall — just a tad, not too much, not too little — over the fact that he has taken the Fifth in legal depositions more often than Tony Soprano.

And yet, Scott is getting all huffy that Sink, at best, bent a cockamamie debate rule?

This is a bit like scruples-challenged Afghan President Hamid Karzai getting on his moral high horse because a Kabul traffic cop took a $50 bribe to fix a parking ticket.

If Scott is going to whimper about how shocked and appalled he is because Sink may have committed the political equivalent crime of removing a mattress tag, should he get elected to the Governor's Mansion next week imagine how he'll react to the legislative Sodom and Gomorrah that awaits him in the vomitory of Tallahassee?

In the end, whether Sink received some prohibited counsel from a campaign gofer hardly changed the quality of the discourse in the face-off between the two candidates. These so-called "debates" have pretty much been reduced to Sink raising her opponent's association with the Columbia/HCA Medicare fraud, while Scott has remained true to his talking points to accuse Sink of being more liberal than Jane Fonda, Barney Frank and the entire Cal Berkeley faculty.

The Lincoln-Douglas debates these exchanges are not. For that matter Abbott and Costello's "Who's on first?" shtick qualifies as higher civic discourse than for what passes for political dialogue these days.

Only a few days to go. But still enough time for Scott to become suitably shocked and appalled that Sink once maliciously double-parked. Oh the scandal of it all!

Scott's phony outrage 10/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 7:43pm]

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