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  1. Opinion

Ruth: Rick Scott 'honored' by Sarasota Republicans

Gov. Rick Scott will be honored by Sarasota Republicans as “Statesman of the Year.”
Gov. Rick Scott will be honored by Sarasota Republicans as “Statesman of the Year.”
Published Mar. 23, 2016

Over the past few years the Sarasota Republican Party has honored as its coveted Statesman of the Year a giant Beaker the Muppet, the U.S. Senate's answer to Grandpa Munster and a hapless radio personality who makes less sense than a chattering teeth toy.

But the smoking jackets of Sarasota Republicans may have outdone themselves by awarding their 2016 Statesman of the Year tribute to Robby the Robot of Tallahassee, Gov. Rick Scott.

Yes, Scott follows in the shadows of past Statesman of the Year designees Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Sean Hannity, the Three Horse's Patooties of the Apocalypse.

It would seem pretty obvious that when it comes to "statesmanship" the bar is set somewhere between Shemp Howard and a rutabaga. After all, when most of us see the term "statesman," the tendency is to think of statesmen like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln or perhaps Cicero. You know, towering historical figures who have actually made a significant difference in defeating tyranny, saving lives, or advancing the cause of peace, love and brotherhood.

Stiffing some 750,000 low-income Floridians by refusing to accept federal Medicaid dollars, as Scott did, hardly rises to Benjamin Disraeli-like heights of statesmanship.

Apparently the plaque handed out by the Sarasota Republicans has become something of a big deal, perhaps out of curiosity to see if the party will tap a figure with all the charisma and leadership skills of a tree stump as its Statesman of the Year. And yes it has.

After all, Scott moved into the Governor's Mansion after a distinguished career running Columbia/HCA, which paid a record $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud. Say, there's a display of Klemens von Metternich statesmanship for you. And it's pretty much downhill from there.

Scott has treated the state's teachers with all the respect of a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of his shoe. He has gutted the ability of the state to protect the environment. With repeated budget cutting, he has made the state's prison system one of the most dangerous places to work in Florida.

And while Scott is the governor of the most ecologically at-risk state in the union, he refuses to acknowledge the fact-based reality of man-made climate change even after 10 prominent Florida scientists tried to explain the issue to him. Instead, the Stepford governor banned the use of the terms "climate change" and "global warming" from Florida Department of Environmental Protection documents.

And just days ago Scott, the choice of the ascots of Sarasota Republicans as their Statesman of the Year, found himself getting a well-deserved bum's rush off MSNBC's Morning Joe program when he repeatedly refused to rebuke Donald Trump's bigoted accusation that "Islam hates us."

Now you would think someone who is about to become statesman of the year ought to be able to go on national television and rebuke the delusional ramblings of a hatemongering Islamophobe. Instead, the governor ducked.

Scott delivered a full-throated endorsement of Trump the day after the Florida primary, when: a) his worthless endorsement was even more worthless and/or b) nobody cared, including Trump.

We can also reasonably assume the foie gras of Sarasota Republicans have a bit of a sense of humor.

For while Scott is being hailed, the Sarasota Republicans will also recognize former Navy SEAL Robert O'Neill as Patriot of the Year.

O'Neill has been credited with killing Osama bin Laden. Or think of it this way. He shot bin Laden during one of the most daring commando raids in U.S. history.

It won't be easy for Sarasota Republicans in 2017 to top this year's selection of statesman of the year. Perhaps Jeb Bush, who blew through $140 million to win four Republican presidential delegates? Now there's some incompetence only those Sarasota Republicans could love.