Often in the course of observing American politics, the deep politics maven must stand in awe at the lack of perception, and the willingness to be blinded and bamboozled by bullshit as well as misled on priorities. Such has been the case with the ludicrous Florida "Fangate" brouhaha - which transpired before the planned recent debate between Charlie Crist (former FLA Gov.) and Rick Scott - the current one.
According to Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reporter Rosemary Goudreau, one of the debate panelists - appearing on Steve Kornacki's 'UP' this morning, a Scott advisor jumped before the question panel minutes before the debate start, and began barking questions like: "Are you going to permit this? Are you going to allow Crist to break the rules?"
He was referring to Crist being allowed to bring his trademark fan in with him. Note: the fan - from the images presented on UP in various venues where Crist appeared- had no secret compartments from which hidden lasers might pop out by which to blind the eyes of the opponent, unnerve him or otherwise throw him off his game. In other words, the whole kerfuffle literally appeared to be the proverbial storm in a teacup.
Anyway, Ms. Goudreau expressed shock since according to her, "The rules as we knew them were just one minute each, and thirty seconds for each response. This made sense because, believe me, Florida mid-term voters have more hot potatoes on their plate, including their health care and educational systems, perils to the environment from climate change (eroding beaches) and pollutants than fretting over whether one of the debaters brings a fan along with him.
As for Rick Scott, most readers will have seen from my Nov. 4, 2012 blog post that he is not held in much esteem by yours truly. Scott, for those unaware, once headed the notorious healthcare outfit, Columbia HCA - which was once found guilty of overcharging Medicare over $600m while Scott was CEO. Scott himself had admitted:
"As I have said repeatedly Columbia HCA made mistakes, and I take responsibility for what happened on my watch as CEO."
What were those 'mistakes'?
The Miami Herald in an expose (June 27, 2010)of Scott's Columbia HCA and the aftermath noted, despite Scott denying that he knew a fraud was taking place:
"Federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal -- specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.
The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies -- most committed during Scott's tenure -- in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion..."
Then prior to the general election in 2012, Scott gained further notoriety by failing to do diddly about extending early voting times, thereby causing unconscionable voting line waits of up to 6 HOURS as reported in The Miami Herald on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012. This followed a stream of complaints from voters (mostly African-American, Hispanic) who reported voting line waits of up to SEVEN hours Saturday, Nov. 3. As a number of outside observers were quoted in the Herald:: "The extraordinarily long lines and extreme delays created unjustifiably burdened the right to vote"
That was putting it mildly! Think of the oldsters, pregnant women, disabled and others who simply physically would not be able to withstand such rigors, and hence would have to give up their franchise in the interests of their own health and well being.
Anyway, given the background of this trickster, why would anyone not believe he's capable of gaming any scenario or venue he wanted? Including a debate format - hence interjecting a stupid non-issue like his opponent bringing along a fan which even Scott had to know he carried everywhere. So why all the huff and puff? Well, because it served Scott's interest in distracting voters from the real issues affecting the state.
Look, even for me Crist's fan is hilarious. But hey - it's also innocuous! The sign of a serious debater or politician is in discerning the truly threatening from the non-threatening and Rick Scott failed that test, unless - again- he was intent on gaming the debates and turning them into a laughing stock. Because he was the one that made a 'federal case' out of the stupid fan. A serious politician, by contrast, would have ignored it, taken the stage and proceeded with the debate accepting the basic rules without trying to finagle new ones based on having a fan or not. Talk about stupid!
Aside: Much of this whole issue emerged out of the "no electronic devices" rule bunkum which Scott also used against Dem Alex Sink in 2010 - for the gubernatorial election. Evidently, Sink pulled out her smart phone at one point and Scott went ballistic believing she was "cheating" or something. (What? She needed her notes forwarded to her phone?) The ploy worked and Scott won the election. Clearly, having succeeded with this initial stagecraft, Rick Scott believed he could use it again - now with Crist's fan - despite there being no way to cheat using a fan. Never mind, it's an "electronic device".
Anyway, now that the dust has cleared both sides have agreed to hold the debate again next week - minus the fan.
Let us hope that there will be no further untoward issues interjected based on imaginary pseudo "rules" - such as maybe Charlie Crist parting his hair on the "wrong" side of his head.
Florida's voters have bigger fish to fry than to allow themselves to be distracted by errant twaddle!