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Daniel Ruth, Times Columnist

Daniel Ruth

Daniel Ruth has been scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times. He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago. Daniel is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.


  1. Ruth: Bruised but unbowed after a bitter campaign


    This was probably the tipoff that Judithanne McLauchlan was not going to be your typical candidate. After all, what glad-handing office seeker says stuff like: "Well, I think my pedagogy has been experiential learning."

    In today's nasty climate of campaign advertising, popping off about being a pedagogue would have likely led McLauchlan's opponents to accuse her of being a child molester, or perhaps an admitted thespian, or even, dare it be said, someone who once engaged in matriculation....

  2. Ruth: Democrats navel-gaze, Republicans win


    Get ready for a rash of navel-gazing rivaling the Beatles heading off to "Ohmmmmmmmm!" away with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

    Or you could think of the Florida Democratic Party's plans for self-reflection, meditation and thinking deep thoughts as its rendition of "Yawnberry Fields Forever."

    After coming off an election debacle best described as the Charge of the Ultra Light Charade, as Florida's Democrats pretended to be a political party, state Chairwoman Allison Tant, the Gen. Halftrack of the Hustings, created a blue-ribbon panel of prominent Democrats (all 14 of them) to study the election's outcomes and recommend ideas to transform the party in time for the 2016 campaign. Forget the pig. This is going to be like putting lipstick on Lenin's corpse....

  3. Review: Gary Hart scandal births tabloid politics in 'All the Truth Is Out'


    Chances are that if you are a younger person, the name Gary Hart means absolutely nothing to you. And therein lies the tragedy of a rising, promising political career that so spectacularly crashed and burned over the course of a single week in 1987.

    All the stars were aligned for Hart, a charismatic, savvy, smart pol, to ascend to the presidency. Instead, as older people know, the man who would have had it all is best remembered for a dalliance that perhaps never happened, a comely blond model and a rather unfortunate photo taken while they were traveling on a yacht indelicately named Monkey Business. It might have just as well been called The Kiss of Death....

    Hart has never admitted anything untoward occurred between him and Donna Rice. People drew other conclusions from this photo, taken during a trip aboard the yacht Monkey Business.
  4. Ruth: Takeout, depopulate, repeat


    You could be forgiven if you confused Citizens Property Insurance Corp. with one of David Copperfield's legendary acts of illusion. One moment you're a customer. The next moment you're not. And you never even realized you disappeared.

    Being a Citizens customer is not for the faint of heart, or those with a pinch of paranoia or low self-esteem. Being a Citizens policyholder sets up poor, unsuspecting souls for a life of rejection, abandonment and denouncement for fear of getting yet another of the company's letters informing them once again they've been passed around like a broken-down plow horse....

  5. Ruth: Public relations schism: Mormons and Scientologists


    Until a few years ago, about the only thing most Americans knew about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was that they had one darn fine Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Other than that, there was the mystery underwear thing. And yes, the long-ago legacy of polygamy.

    But as Mitt Romney emerged to capture the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, interest increased about Mormonism. And a lot of it wasn't pretty, including not too subtle grumbling during the campaign that the former Massachusetts governor somehow wasn't truly conservative enough to lead his party, which was really little more than a trumped-up euphemism that he wasn't Christian enough....

  6. Ruth: Will the real Rick Scott please stand up?


    So, what might we expect from newly re-elected Gov. Rick Scott's administration over the next four years?

    Given the governor's obsessive compulsive penchant for furtiveness — sheesh, he even made a "secret" visit to a black church in the waning days of the campaign — it is entirely possible we may not see him in public again after his January inauguration.

    Would it shock anyone to see a Scott hologram filling in at all future gubernatorial appearances? And would we even know the difference?...

  7. Ruth: Cowering Democrats got the result they deserved


    As the chattering class sorts through the political carrion of what's left of the Democratic Party in the wake of Tuesday night's scorched earth elections, there will be no shortage of theories as to how it all went so terribly awry.

    There's a temptation to recall Adlai Stevenson's great line during his presidential campaign against Dwight Eisenhower, when a woman told him "all thinking people" were solidly behind him, to which Stevenson responded: "That's not enough madam, we need a majority."...

  8. Ruth: A Bush among the thorns (w/video)


    If you want to know why or if former Gov. Jeb Bush will run for president, ponder this scenario.

    Jeb is walking the moors of South Florida, practicing posing for holy pictures as he weighs a 2016 candidacy, when he is overtaken by a vision. It is the dead of winter in Iowa, and the Republican presidential wannabees are gathered for yet another dreary debate.

    Up on the dais are Texas Sen. Ted Cruz looking like a used shark salesman, grumpy New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie foaming at the mouth, Sen. Marco Rubio playing jacks, sanctimonious former Sen. Rick Santorum showing everyone his stigmata, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal handing out beignets, Texas Gov. Rick Perry waxing about how great it is to be in Hawaii, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee trying to raise the dead, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan reciting Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged....

  9. Saving St. Petersburg's ugly Pier is pretty illogical


    So after all this time, all this money, all the consultant reports, all the civic Sturm und Drang over an inverted Devo hat at the end of St. Petersburg's Pier, it is likely to come down to this? More of the same old same mold?

    This community has spent the past couple of years haggling over what to do with the forlorn inverted pyramid, an edifice with the architectural significance of a manhole cover. It's dilapidated. It offers precious little practical use. And it's ugly. ...

  10. Ruth: Scott vs. Godzilla? Monstrously difficult to choose


    At least for one member of the audience, this event might well have been regarded as the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Seething.

    I had been invited to speak at last weekend's annual celebration of the written word. And yes, I'll save you the trouble. My participation in a program that featured such literary luminaries as R.L. Stine, Carl Hiaasen and Rose Styron, the widow of William Styron, was like including Otis, the Mayberry town drunk, to opine about the nuances of French wine....

    One thing about Godzilla: We’d always know where he stands.
  11. Ruth: I need a new drug


    And now, a word from our sponsors.

    "Do you, like millions of other Floridians, suffer from electile dysfunction? By now you know the symptoms of ED — sudden bouts of drooling, an urge to crawl into a fetal position and a sense of entrapment after being exposed to the same hackneyed political commercial for the 37,867th time when all you want to do is watch Duck Dynasty in peace. Don't despair. This accursed affliction is set to expire on Nov. 4....

  12. Ruth: Lots of talk, very few answers


    Do you have the sneaking suspicion that if you asked Gov. Rick Scott to name the color of an orange he would answer with a rambling discourse on his Dickensesque childhood, accusations that Charlie Crist pals around with Boardwalk Empire's Nucky Thompson and the Castro brothers are terrorists?

    Tuesday's tete-a-snit between two presumably adult candidates vying to become Florida's next governor wasn't a debate. A more proper billing would have been "Two Jesters in Jacksonville," as Scott and Crist spent a lost hour on television portraying each other as less qualified to hold public office than Uday and Qusay....

  13. Survey is just silly to call Tampa snobby


    Dear Editors at Travel + Leisure magazine,

    For a publication dedicated to wayfaring, you people really need to get out of the office more often. How else to explain your recent judgment that Tampa ranks sixth in the nation for its snobbiness?

    Look, we're many things good and bad.

    We have a lovely Bayshore Boulevard and an emerging, revitalized downtown. We have one of the great world-class airports, not to mention the iconic University of Tampa minarets dominating the skyline. Very nice. But we also are famous for naked trollops cavorting on their brass poles and an annual drunkfest in honor of a fictitious rapacious pirate, which gives everyone an excuse to get randy....

  14. Ruth: Fan dance in Broward


    If Rick Scott goes down in defeat two weeks from now, he might well attribute his electoral misfortune to a bizarre night in Davie when the Florida governor had his very own "He-Buffoon" moment.

    The late Gov. Lawton Chiles set the gold standard for dramatic, debate-turning points 20 years ago when he uttered the most famous line of his political career, "The old he-coon walks just before the light of day." His flummoxed challenger, Jeb Bush, looked as if he had found himself dropped into the middle of an episode of Hee Haw....

    Charlie Crist, and his fan, had the stage to himself for a bit.
  15. Ruth: Of gridirons and gray bars


    At this rate of cavalier indifference to irritating stuff like, oh, evidence, you have to wonder if the Tallahassee Police Department could figure out who shot Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Oh, sure, Jack Ruby was seen on national television pumping several shots into Oswald as the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy was surrounded by cops in the parking garage of the Dallas Police Department. But if this crime had been committed in Tallahassee, Ruby just might have walked free if the local gendarmes concluded the killer "showed no obvious signs of guilt."...