John Kasich Archives - Page 5 of 29 - Florida Politics

Martin Dyckman: Cruzing to a police state?

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith memorably said that politics “consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

But what if the only choice is between the disastrous and the disastrous?

That’s the predicament of establishment Republican politicians who think John Kasich, the only decent human being who remains in their presidential primaries, is either too liberal (i.e., he accepted the Medicaid money) or too unlikely to limp to the finish line at the Cleveland convention.

Chris Christie, ever the opportunist, forgot every truth he had told about Donald Trump’s spectacular lack of qualifications and endorsed him. You could say he sold his soul for a Cabinet post, but that would raise the question of whether he had one to sell.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, admitting out of one side of his face that Kasich would make the better president, out of the other endorsed Ted Cruz.

That is the same Lindsey Graham who, while supporting Jeb Bush, said that if “you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Mitt Romney came out for Cruz too. He all but begged Kasich to quit the race.

Then Bush himself, whose noblest characteristic was that he’s no bigot, endorsed Cruz, who’s just as dangerous a bigot as Trump. Bush called him “a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.”

Only a few hours later, that “principled conservative” called for a Castro-style police presence in American Muslim neighborhoods.

Turkey has suffered more bombings recently than any other of our NATO allies. Just this month, at least 41 people died in blasts at Ankara and Istanbul. But Cruz said nothing about that outbreak of terror. Perhaps it was because most of the victims were Muslims.

Then came the terror in Brussels.

That’s when he called for American police to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

What would be next? Gated ghettoes? Special ID cards? Yellow crescents to be sewn on their clothing?

President Barack Obama, referring to his just-completed visit to Cuba, had the perfect putdown for Cruz.

“I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free,” the President said.

Trump, meanwhile, used the Brussels tragedy as yet another opportunity to indulge his sick fascination with torture. His Sadean fixation with hurting people is becoming a subject more for psychiatry than political science.

Anyone who talks like either Cruz or Trump is unfit to be president. Any politician who endorses either of them is clueless as to what a “principled conservative” really is, and can hardly be considered one himself.

There’s one principle, though, that Bush and Cruz apparently share. It’s to cut taxes for the rich and raise them on the poor. Citizens for Tax Justice calculated that Cruz’s scheme, more extreme even than Bush’s, would cost $13.9 trillion over 10 years either as added debt or a demolished government. It also would give the top 1 per cent an average tax cut of $435,000 a year.

Interestingly, that doesn’t seem to be endearing Cruz to the billionaire Koch brothers and the other big-money Republican establishment campaign contributors.

Perhaps it’s because they don’t think even Cruz can stop Trump. And Trump is their worst nightmare — someone they doubt that they could control.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Koch network is considering investing most of its $900 million campaign budget on protecting what it can control — its Republican allies in the Congress.

“A key element of the strategy,” the newspaper said, “will be a springtime wave of television ads that slam Democratic contenders and tout Republican incumbents as attuned to hometown concerns. Strategists hope the efforts will help inoculate congressional candidates against association with Trump’s incendiary remarks.”

For example, the article said, one super-PAC in the Koch network is spending $1 million to prop up New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, while another is attacking Ohio’s former Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, who’s running against Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

It means they figure Trump for a general election loser who would cost them the Senate and many seats in the House.

It’s a cynical strategy that makes perfect sense. It should have made sense to Graham and Bush too.

In that scenario, continued Republican control of one or both houses would frustrate anything that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would want to do — such as appointing any moderate to liberal Supreme Court justice.

Just as they have frustrated nearly everything Obama has wanted to do.

***

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the St. Petersburg Times. He lives in suburban Asheville, North Carolina. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Mitch Perry Report for 3.24.16 – Jeb Bush’s Ted Cruz endorsement means … what?

On why Americans hate politics, example No. 462.

Jeb Bush came out and endorsed Ted Cruz on Wednesday.

As he put it, “For the sake of our party and country, we must overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena, or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee, most likely Hillary Clinton, this fall.”

It’s curious why the former Florida governor only now is backing Cruz. Two weeks ago, Bush met with Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio in Miami, shortly before the last GOP presidential debate. When he didn’t endorse anyone at that point, days before Floridians (well, those who hadn’t already voted) went to the polls, it seemed like he would just sit it out.

The endorsement proves that although the establishment probably prefers Kasich to anyone else still standing, the math simply doesn’t work for the Ohio governor, and the calls for him to drop out will only get louder in the next week. That’s despite the fact that he’s the only Republican candidate alive who polls show would beat Clinton in the fall.

A writer for the National Review has the audacity to call the Bush endorsement a “game-changer” for Cruz. Really? Do you actually think Bush believes in Cruz, and that this now gives people who were reluctant to back him the “freedom” to do so?

No, this feels like Mitt Romney backing Cruz, another case of a Republican holding their nose as they freak out about Trump leading the party in the fall.

It doesn’t feel very real, though, does it? OK, I’ll take it back if Jeb goes out to Wisconsin next week to stump for Cruz.

How about some greatest hits from the campaign trail?

“I don’t think Ted Cruz would have the same possibilities of beating Hillary Clinton that I would. Nor would Donald Trump for that matter,” Bush said in January.

Last month, Bush referred to Cruz and Rubio derisively when talking about Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

“The guy has not missed a vote for 22.5 years. He probably has a list of accomplishments and service to the state of Iowa and to this country that’s pretty real,” Bush said of Grassley. “Marco doesn’t have it; he’s gifted. Ted Cruz doesn’t have it; he’s gifted. I’m not saying they’re not talented people. But they don’t have a record of accomplishment and some people will think about that when they make the decision of who’s going to be their vote on Tuesday.”

Or how about when Cruz criticized Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts?

“(Ted Cruz] was supportive of the guy he was critical of, that’s Washington world man, I mean that’s the way they roll there. He literally supported John Roberts and then after the fact, with the power of hindsight, this amazing power that only people in Washington have, the rest of us apparently don’t have this skill. He can opine the way he wants.”

In other news …

We attended the Todd JonesBob Henriquez faceoff regarding the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race, so you didn’t have to. Our take.

• • •

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan made an issue Wednesday about how the conversations with the Tampa Bay Rays and the county about a potential new stadium will be completely transparent. Except for that part where it won’t be.

• • •

Just for laughs: An aide to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy thought he’d screw around with a video tracker the other day. Pretty funny — though maybe not for the Senate candidate after that video was released.

• • •

Hillsborough County will expand its indigent heath care program for up to 6,000 people.

• • •

Traffic bad in the Tampa Bay area? Sure, but there are a lot of places where it’s worse.

• • •

And the SEIU Florida is backing Pat Frank in the Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts race.

Steven Kurlander: Donald Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president, so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions. In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already. He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer. He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York.

54 percent of voters say they won’t vote for Donald Trump

Donald Trump may be the leading in the polls, but more than 50 percent of voters said they wouldn’t vote for him in November.

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll, 54 percent of registered voters surveyed said they wouldn’t vote for the New York Republican in the general election. Forty-three percent of respondents stated that they wouldn’t support Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

But voters might not have any other options. The survey found that Trump leads the GOP field with 43 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 29 percent. John Kasich is in third with 16 percent.

Trump leads the field among every cross section of respondents, except those who self-identify as very conservative. Among those Republican and Republican-leaning voters, 47 percent said they supported Cruz.

On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 50 percent to 38 percent. Sanders, the poll found, does better among people between 18 and 44 years old and those who self-identify as very liberal.

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may have the overall leads among primary voters, but there is not a love in the room as a big percentage of Americans say of the front runners they could take ‘em or leave ‘em,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from March 16 through March 21. The survey polled 1,451 registered voters and had an overall margin of error of 2.6 percent. The survey includes 652 Republicans with a margin of error of 3.8 percent; and 635 Democrats with a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

Steven Kurlander: Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president http://www.legacy.com/life-and-death/the-liberty-era.html  so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions.  In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already.  He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer.  He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz blasts Ted Cruz’ call for police patrols of Muslim neighborhoods

In the wake of the Brussels terror attacks Tuesday morning,  Ted Cruz suggested that the United States “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

In a statement sent to reporters in Washington hours after terrorists struck civilian targets in Brussels, the GOP presidential candidate said that for years, the west has tried to deny the existence of Islamic terrorism, out of combination of fear and political correctness.

“We can no longer afford either,” he said. “Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods. We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

It was that last sentence that fired up Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who called Cruz “a disgrace.”

“His comments today were worse than opportunistic and inappropriate politicking in the wake of the terrible tragedy in Brussels – they were a shameful display of hate that only serves to foment anger and make the world less secure,” she said in a statement issued out by the DNC Tuesday afternoon.

“Barely before the smoke had cleared, he declared that – here in the United States – we should institute police patrols in Muslim neighborhoods,” Wasserman Schultz added. “This is not leadership; it is fear-mongering for political gain. And this is the sad state of Republican leadership today, where the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the GOP’s presidential candidates seems to reach new lows each day. We need to elect a commander-in-chief with the temperament and judgment to respond wisely to the threat of terrorism and global unrest, not a demagogue who defaults to militaristic escalation and racial or religious profiling.”

Meanwhile, John Kasich told reporters in Minneapolis, “We are not at war with Islam; we’re at war with radical Islam.”

The New York Times reports that Kasich said that, “In our country, we don’t want to create divisions where we say, ‘O.K., well your religion, you’re a Muslim, so therefore we’re going to keep an eye on you.’”

Cruz also exploited the tragedy in Brussels to use as an opportunity to go after Donald Trump.

On Monday, Trump was critical of U.S. spending on NATO in an interview with the Washington Post’s editorial board, calling for a diminished role in the military alliance while calling on other NATO countries to begin contribution more financially.

“Donald Trump is wrong that America should withdraw from the world and abandon our allies,” Cruz told reporters. “Donald Trump is wrong that American should retreat from Europe, retreat from NATO, hand Putin a major victory and while he’s at it hand ISIS a major victory.”

Brussels is where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is headquartered.

 

 

Diane Roberts: Florida GOP voters don’t want to think, they just want to believe

So the other jackboot has dropped: Rick Scott endorsed his Soul Brother but only after that big Florida Primary win.

Scott signaled his man-crush back in January, writing breathlessly for USA TODAY that Herr Drumpf reminds him of, well, him: rich, an “outsider,” a business hombre incensed over “endless and tedious regulation and taxation.”

You know, crap like the Clean Water Act. And the Voting Rights Act.

Still, Scott couldn’t quite bring himself to come out all the way for the eccentrically coiffed braggart until he saw which way Florida Republicans would blow. After all, they’re the people he needs to propel him to the United States Senate in 2018.

He’s betting (and the evidence is pretty compelling, see 2010 and 2014) that a large hunk of Florida voters no longer care about qualifications or competence. They just want to elect somebody who will throw epic tantrums on their behalf. Somebody who’ll show those uppity feminists and gays and Black Lives Matter kids who’s boss. Somebody who’ll make America white male again.

They don’t want problem-solvers. They want a megaphone.

Meanwhile, the denizens of Punditland are trying to get their heads around what happened to Florida’s once-golden homeboys.

Jeb was the Bush to beat, the Smart One, the guy who’d raised so much money nobody could touch him. Marco Rubio was young, Latino, telegenic and energetic: the new Face of the 21st century GOP.

Ted Cruz? Everybody hates him, especially his fellow senators. You can’t run a serious presidential campaign with no friends. John Kasich? One of those moderate Republicans. He accepted Obamacare in Ohio. He’ll be gone by Iowa.

And as for Trump: are you kidding? The guy’s an idiot. He’s going nowhere.

Yeah.

Got it wrong, didn’t we?

Perhaps not entirely: Cruz is despised by most rational people. Trump is indeed an idiot — the way Mussolini was an idiot. Mean, cunning and narcissistic.

But Rubio wasn’t such a fresh face, after all. His political “philosophy” was opportunism with a spritz of Reagan-lite: path to citizenship for undocumented aliens? Sure — until it upsets the base.

And Bush, well, even Republicans persisting in a perverse fondness for George W. didn’t warm to his “little brother” Jeb. Where George W. won people over by being just as ignorant and incurious — but friendly — as they were, Jeb spouted passionless policy, specifics and other egghead-ish stuff.

The truth is that Bush and Rubio were both lackluster candidates, products of Florida’s intellectually bankrupt GOP, a party which was, 35 years ago, strangely progressive on the environment and on social issues, but which now exists — much like the old Pork Chop Democrats — merely to perpetuate their own power.

Bush beat two weak Democrats for governor in 1998 and 2002, kept his nerve in the 2000 presidential vote recount, and tried to dismantle public education in Florida. Somehow that made him look like presidential material — at least to old-line party faithful.

Rubio got himself a couple of fat jobs out of law school, including a teaching gig at FIU funded by private donors, before he hit the Florida House and became Speaker at age 35.

He was elected to the US Senate in 2010, beating former Gov. Charlie Crist. That seemed like a mighty coup. But remember that 2010 was the year the Tea Party grabbed their pitchforks and tricorn hats: that guy in the White House was a Kenyan Muslim socialist atheist revolutionary who was going to get his dusky government hands on their doctors!

And 2010 was also the year Florida elected as governor a guy whose company drew the largest fine in history for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

Rick Scott still isn’t in jail.

The signs were there. Bush and Rubio should have noticed that the re-election of Scott indicated that the people of Florida were not inclined to critical thinking. And those two establishment Republicans had nothing to offer an electorate angrier than ever over things they barely understand: the Iran nuclear deal (no, the US is not “giving” Iran $150 billion); detente with Cuba; marriage equality; the Paris climate change agreement. Rubio tried the optimistic “New American Century” thing. Bush didn’t do “shining city on the hill.” He just touted his mixed record as governor of Florida — and his famous name.

They tried and failed to counter Trump’s bombast, his bread and circuses, his witless sloganeering about “winning” and “deals,” his boasting about bringing back torture and suing newspapers he doesn’t like and making everybody say, “Merry Christmas.”

But you don’t beat rage with policy. And you don’t vanquish a pig by getting down in the mud with him. You can’t win against the promise of “greatness.”

Republican voters in Florida no longer want to think. They just want to believe.

***

Diane Roberts is the author of “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.” She teaches at Florida State University.

Diane Roberts: Florida GOP voters don’t want to think, they just want to believe

So the other jackboot has dropped: Rick Scott endorsed his Soul Brother but only after that big Florida Primary win.

Scott signaled his man-crush back in January, writing breathlessly for USA Today that Herr Drumpf reminds him of, well, him: rich, an “outsider,” a business hombre incensed over “endless and tedious regulation and taxation.”

You know, crap like the Clean Water Act. And the Voting Rights Act.

Still, Scott couldn’t quite bring himself to come out all the way for the eccentrically coiffed braggart until he saw which way Florida Republicans would blow. After all, they’re the people he needs to propel him to the United States Senate in 2018.

He’s betting (and the evidence is pretty compelling, see 2010 and 2014) that a large hunk of Florida voters no longer care about qualifications or competence. They just want to elect somebody who will throw epic tantrums on their behalf. Somebody who’ll show those uppity feminists and gays and Black Lives Matter kids who’s boss. Somebody who’ll make America white male again.

They don’t want problem-solvers. They want a megaphone.

Meanwhile, the denizens of Punditland are trying to get their heads around what happened to Florida’s once-golden homeboys.

Jeb was the Bush to beat, the Smart One, the guy who’d raised so much money nobody could touch him. Marco Rubio was young, Latino, telegenic and energetic: the new Face of the 21st century GOP.

Ted Cruz? Everybody hates him, especially his fellow senators. You can’t run a serious presidential campaign with no friends. John Kasich? One of those moderate Republicans. He accepted Obamacare in Ohio. He’ll be gone by Iowa.

And as for Trump: are you kidding? The guy’s an idiot. He’s going nowhere.

Yeah.

Got it wrong, didn’t we?

Perhaps not entirely: Cruz is despised by most rational people. Trump is indeed an idiot — the way Mussolini was an idiot. Mean, cunning and narcissistic.

But Rubio wasn’t such a fresh face, after all. His political “philosophy” was opportunism with a spritz of Reagan-lite: path to citizenship for undocumented aliens? Sure — until it upsets the base.

And Bush, well, even Republicans persisting in a perverse fondness for George W. didn’t warm to his “little brother” Jeb. Where George W. won people over by being just as ignorant and incurious — but friendly — as they were, Jeb spouted passionless policy, specifics and other eggheadish stuff.

The truth is that Bush and Rubio were both lackluster candidates, products of Florida’s intellectually bankrupt GOP, a party which was, 35 years ago, strangely progressive on the environment and on social issues, but which now exists — much like the old Pork Chop Democrats — merely to perpetuate their own power.

Bush beat two weak Democrats for governor in 1998 and 2002, kept his nerve in the 2000 presidential vote recount, and tried to dismantle public education in Florida. Somehow that made him look like presidential material — at least to old-line party faithful.

Rubio got himself a couple of fat jobs out of law school, including a teaching gig at FIU funded by private donors, before he hit the Florida House and became Speaker at age 35.

He was elected to the US Senate in 2010, beating former Gov. Charlie Crist. That seemed like a mighty coup. But remember that 2010 was the year the Tea Party grabbed their pitchforks and tricorn hats: that guy in the White House was a Kenyan Muslim socialist atheist revolutionary who was going to get his dusky government hands on their doctors!

And 2010 was also the year Florida elected as governor a guy whose company drew the largest fine in history for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

Rick Scott still isn’t in jail.

The signs were there. Bush and Rubio should have noticed that the re-election of Scott indicated that the people of Florida were not inclined to critical thinking. And those two establishment Republicans had nothing to offer an electorate angrier than ever over things they barely understand: the Iran nuclear deal (no, the US is not “giving” Iran $150 billion); detente with Cuba; marriage equality; the Paris climate change agreement. Rubio tried the optimistic “New American Century” thing. Bush didn’t do “shining city on the hill.” He just touted his mixed record as governor of Florida — and his famous name.

They tried and failed to counter Trump’s bombast, his bread and circuses, his witless sloganeering about “winning” and “deals,” his boasting about bringing back torture and suing newspapers he doesn’t like and making everybody say, “Merry Christmas.”

But you don’t beat rage with policy. And you don’t vanquish a pig by getting down in the mud with him. You can’t win against the promise of “greatness.”

Republican voters in Florida no longer want to think. They just want to believe.

***

Diane Roberts is the author of Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She teaches at Florida State University. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Jac VerSteeg: Political fratricide model fails Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio was convinced the Fratricide Model of politics was his ticket to the top. Now, after one brilliant win and one spectacular loss, the Florida senator claims to have renounced the model.

He will not, he says, run for governor in 2018. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam need not fear a Rubio challenge.

We won’t have Marco Rubio to kick around anymore?

Political fratricide worked for Rubio in 2010 when he broke in line to oppose and defeat Gov. Charlie Crist for a U.S. Senate seat. He was helped along by that year’s Tea Party revolt and the fact that newly Independent Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek split the no-to-Rubio vote.

Just as angry as the 2010 Tea Party faithful but with a new idol, Florida GOP primary voters this month delivered the final blow to Rubio’s second attempt at exploiting the Fratricide Model. They gave Donald Trump a victory in every county except Rubio’s Miami-Dade refuge.

What effect did Rubio’s fratricidal challenge to his mentor (and his better) Jeb Bush have on the contest? What if Rubio had shown respect, bided his time and supported Bush? No way to know, but Florida might have been the firewall for Bush and the anti-Trumpers that it so dismally failed to be for Rubio.

I do not think that every intra-party challenge can be characterized as an example of the Fratricide Model. It’s appropriate for rivals in the same party to let voters decide between them. But when one of the challengers has not earned the right to vie for an office and, further, damages the party or the office he seeks, that is political fratricide.

And that is what Rubio has done. He knocked off Crist – once a Republican rising star – and proceeded to disdain the Senate seat he won. As a result, the seat easily could go to a Democrat this November.

Then, of course, Rubio challenged Jeb. After helping to undermine the clear choice of the GOP establishment, Rubio proceeded to run a horrible campaign. The overall effect boosted Trump’s prospects and hurt the Republican Party.

What will Rubio do next? He claimed, upon returning to work in the Senate – if someone so often a no-show can be said to “return to work” – that, in addition to eschewing a gubernatorial bid, he would not be anybody’s veep.

You never know what to make of a politician’s claim that he won’t seek this or that office. How many times did now-House Speaker Paul Ryan claim that he would not accept the post? (By the way, Ryan also insists he won’t allow himself to be nominated at a fractured GOP convention this summer. Right.)

For Rubio, who has been assailed for overweening ambition, what better strategy than to affect a new humility and express no ambition whatsoever for political office?

Is it really believable that if, by some miracle, he emerges as a vice presidential candidate – perhaps for Ryan at a brokered convention – Rubio would turn down the chance?

It is more believable that Rubio does not plan to run for governor in 2018. Not because he doesn’t lust after political office, but because he was so badly burned this year by the Fratricide Model. Even Rubio should be able to see that he is less qualified and less deserving than the premier GOP candidate for the job, Putnam.

Putnam served in the Florida Legislature and then went on to serve in Congress for 10 years. Unlike Rubio, Putnam actually performed his job diligently and rose to be the third-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House.

Then, rather than stay in a secure seat in federal office, Putnam chose to return to state politics and has been elected and re-elected as Ag commissioner.

It is worth emphasizing that Putnam’s chosen trajectory brought him voluntarily back to Florida. Rubio’s chosen path was to attempt to move into the White House. Only a failure to reach that goal could bring him the “consolation prize” of a gubernatorial campaign. And even if he were elected governor, he would just treat it as a stepping stone back onto the national stage.

Could Rubio beat Putnam? Considering his drubbing on the Ides of March, the likely answer is no. His decision not to run for governor easily could be a case of sour grapes rather than an example of his newfound humility.

Since Rubio decided to give up his Senate seat, it is hard to see any political path that puts him back on that stage. His best option? Hope that anybody but Trump wins and that Rubio could find a spot in a Ted Cruz or John Kasich administration and bide his time.

But does anyone think that if Rubio saw a chance to return to political prominence he would hesitate to seize it even if it meant running over one of his Republican brethren? Oh, brother.

***

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post and former editor of Context Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — White House chief of staff Denis McDonough; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Republican presidential candidate John Kasich; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

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NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Kasich, McConnell; Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Kasich; Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders; Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C.

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CNN’s “State of the Union” — Kasich, McConnell, Priebus.

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“Fox News Sunday” — McDonough, Kasich, McConnell.

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Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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