Saturday, September 13, 2014

Who's a Fine Upstanding Governor?

I usually ignore political commercials because I assume that they are just like commercial commercials - i.e., thoroughly dishonest. Nevertheless, I have managed to catch glimpses of a couple of the ads being run by the Charlie Crist and Rick Scott campaigns. Based on these, I might be tempted to conclude that Florida’s candidates for governor both belong behind bars.

But this conclusion would only be half true, because Charlie Crist does not, in fact, belong behind bars. The GOP has accused Crist of being dishonest over and over again because in 2010 he migrated from Republican to independent to Democrat. In fact Crist did make this two-step party switch, but he did this because (a) he is an ambitious politician, and (b) the Republican Party has morphed into a lunatic ship of fools dominated by the likes of Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell.

To be fair, not all Republican are as nutty as Ted Cruz. Some of them incline more toward the thuggish side, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for instance – who Rick Scott recently brought down to Florida as his upstanding character witness. Governor Christie dutifully declared that Scott, unlike Charlie Crist (the party switcher!), is a man of “honesty and integrity.”

And who would know more about honesty and integrity than Chris Christie?

One of Charlie Crist’s commercials included a video of Rick Scott sitting mournfully for a deposition looking anything but innocent. I haven’t bothered to track down the trial for which Scott was deposing and during which he apparently kept saying, “I don’t recall,” and taking refuge in the Fifth Amendment, but I’m guessing it related to his old company, Columbia/HCA. This is the Texas-based corporation that was found guilty of fraudulent billing practices, illegal kickbacks and other shenanigans and from which Scott was forced to resign his position as chairman and CEO.

No sooner did Scott successfully avoid indictment in the Columbia/HCA case and make his way to Florida than he managed to win the 2010 gubernatorial election here. Once in the governor’s mansion, he continued his obsession with medical issues. One of his favorite policies was requiring various state employees and welfare recipients to pee in cups in order to prove that they are drug free. This policy has been judged unconstitutional, but Scott has dedicated $381,654 of Florida’s budget to appeal this decision.

If this appeal succeeds, I wonder how my good friends and fellow professors at the University of Central Florida will feel about being told to step forward with their cups full of evidence. Or my friends in the teaching profession. Or anyone who works for the State of Florida for that matter or who benefits from welfare.

Scott has also been obsessed with cutting funding to public health departments. One result of this is that more people than ever are forced to seek care at privately owned medical centers – like those of Solantic, a company in which Scott’s wife holds controlling interest. As Rick Scott is no doubt aware, Florida law does not bar governors from implementing policies from which their family members profit.

Thank you, Florida legislators.

I will stop thinking about this race right now because currently it is “too close to call,” and I really can’t bear the thought that we might have to face another four years of …