Friday, January 19, 2018

Voters see through cash and chicanery

Perhaps one of the lessons from Tuesday night is that money doesn't buy you love. Or smarts. Or even your own monogrammed version of reality.

They were supposed to be the sharpest guys in the room. But when the room is a Fox News studio, this is a bit like being the class valedictorian at Moe Howard University.

Brothers David and Charles Koch dropped tens of millions of dollars to discredit and remove Barack Obama from the presidency. And what did it get them? More canceled checks than electoral college votes.

Karl Rove's Crossroads political action committees also dumped nine figures of cash into pushing Mitt Romney. And what did it get him? VIP tickets to a concession speech.

Conventional wizardry argues these guys were supposed to be geniuses. But the Koch princes of prevarication owe their reputations for savvy to inherited wealth. Rove inherited George W. Bush. We're not exactly in Obi-Wan Kenobi territory here.

They had plenty of disciples to keep them company on their Cirque du Soliel of stump chicanery. Las Vegas mogul Sheldon Adelson, the Daddy Warbucks of blackjack, also tried to buy an election and wound up holding an inside flush of jokers.

And Donald Trump, the Lord of the Lies? Can we all agree that the Great Pumpkin of Puffery has retired the title of the nation's village buffoon?

As for talk radio's conservative fringe — Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Todd Schnitt — in the run-up to Election Day, there was more foaming spittle flying through the speakers than Old Yeller in his death throes.

Certainly a case can be made election night was a triumph over the politics of stupid.

The birthers, the hair shirts of the tea party, the "Climate change? What climate change?" deniers, the folks who believe women possess a magical ability to ward off pregnancy by rape, commies in Congress knuckle-draggers, the science is Satan crowd. They all were given the bum's rush at the polls.

At long last the body politic opted for candidates who don't have to move their lips while attempting to read a stop sign.

Politicians such as Hillsborough County Property Appraiser candidate Ronda Storms, Hillsborough School Board hopeful Terry Kemple, Rep. Allen West, Rep. Connie Mack and state House members Chris Dorworth and Scott Plakon were sent packing by an electorate weary of all the faux sanctimonious self-righteous fatuousness. Ba-Blah.

This wasn't an election as much as it was a voting booth de-lousing.

At the same time, the citizenry saw the right-wing special interest demagogic assault on Florida Supreme Court Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince for the political star chamber that it was and retained all three.

To be sure, the extremist losers this week look like a gathering of weevils.

But perhaps the most notable Sad Sack of the stump who saw his duty and ducked it faster than the Duke of Windsor has to be Gov. Rick Scott, a man who gave up what's left of his integrity for the votes he abhors.

It was Scott, along with his Bowery Boys of the ballot in the Florida Legislature, who looked at all those minorities and Democrats voting early and thought to themselves, "Well! We'll just see about that. This democracy nonsense can only go so far."

Thus it was the Gov. Lepetomane of the Apalachee Parkway conspired with the Republican-led Legislature to reduce voting hours and otherwise make it more difficult to cast a ballot than catch a glimpse of the Florida swamp ape.

The deceit behind all this was that there was so much make-believe voter fraud occurring. But since nobody could come up with any proof of election hanky-panky, Scott and his little friends decided to commit some of their own voter suppression fraud, perhaps to show people how it's really done.

But the cynical ploy backfired as millions of Floridians defiantly stood in line for hours to commit the single most important act of citizenship — casting a vote, a civic duty the chief executive officer of the state showed little appetite for honoring.

Scott had a second chance. He could have ordered the voting hours to be extended. He could have sided with the public. He could have done the right thing. He took a pass — on democracy.

In 2014, Scott will be up for re-election, asking the public for their vote.

He can be sure Floridians will be more than happy to stand in line for as long as it takes to cast a ballot.

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