Stephen Goldstein: Florida’s Richard Nixon: “Tricky” Rick Scott
Image via AP.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is the reincarnation of Richard Nixon. “Tricky Dick,” the 37th U.S. president, was a walking thesaurus of negatives: imperious, secretive, draconian, paranoid, duplicitous, underhanded, and insincere — for starters. The committee formed to re-elect him — and that got him into Watergate trouble that led to his resignation — aptly went by the acronym CREEP.

Next to Scott, Nixon’s stealth administration looks transparent and forthcoming. “Tricky Rick” can out-trick Dick word-for-word, deed-for-deed. He has been a law unto himself as imperious as Nixon, who said, “If the president orders it, that makes it legal.”

Shortly after he took office, Scott got rid of all state planes and began to use his personal jet for official travel. Cavorting in the heavens, he appears to believe he has immunity from public scrutiny and refuses to release flight plans and travel logs. Even Nixon would have known he couldn’t get away with that.

A defrocked CEO, Scott has never understood the phrase “public servant” or acted as though he followed (or read) the state or U.S. Constitutions.

His attitude toward Floridians is “step back folks, you bother me,” but step right up if you run a corporation.

In Scott’s parallel universe, he’s still in business, at the top of the organization chart, lording it over underlings (aka Floridians). The state is his company, and his primary goal is to turn public assets into profits for crony capitalists.

Holy Rosemary Woods! No doubt remembering Nixon’s incriminating Oval Office tapes and the secretary who erased part of them, the governor’s office told employees to avoid the public record altogether by using personal emails and cell phone text messages for sensitive matters — sweeping secrecy that violates state law. One litigant in a case against the governor has been quoted saying, “They don’t turn over anything unless they get caught.”

Scott went to draconian lengths to keep Floridians from benefiting from health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Before running for governor, he pumped millions into a PAC to keep the ACA from passing. Then, he ran for Florida governor on a promise to overturn it.

Once elected, he spent state tax dollars trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. Having failed, during the initial signup period, he saw to it that the state Department of Health wouldn’t let counselors meet in state facilities with Floridians who wanted to enroll.

Rick is paranoid — or is it that he might go to prison if he told the truth? Before he became governor, he exercised his right under the Fifth Amendment 75 times to avoid answering questions during a deposition involving a lawsuit against one of his companies.

He has yet to give a straight answer to any reporter’s questions. “Governor Scott, do you believe the state should legalize same-sex marriage?” a reporter might ask. “I’m proud of the jobs we’ve created,” the governor replies and runs off.

Duplicitous, Scott claims he wants to invest record amounts of money in Florida public schools. But additional monies won’t make up for the drastic cuts he made earlier in his term. And he has continued to sabotage public schools by vastly increasing the number of charter schools and vouchers, which divert money from public schools to private schools.

Scott campaigned for governor on a sound-bite that he would add 700,000 jobs above what would have increased through normal growth. He denies saying it, but it’s on a tape he couldn’t erase.

Underhanded, Scott gutted social programs that benefit the needy and did little or nothing to help the middle class. Instead, he signs legislation that disproportionately benefits businesses and the richest Floridians, on the discredited premise that what’s good for the prosperous trickles down to the poor.

Running for re-election, Scott is now luring voters by promising increased funding for Everglades restoration, schools, and the tooth fairy. If he’s re-elected, they’ll be gone with the wind of his private jet.

In November 1973, with the Watergate scandal raging, President Nixon went on TV to deny that he was “a crook.” And he added that “in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice.”

It was only after Nixon had been re-elected that Americans knew for certain he was a crook and he did obstruct justice. The public was shocked. He had to resign.

In 2010, before Scott was elected, Florida voters knew he and his company were crooks. He was the former CEO of HCA, a company that had to pay a $1.7 billion fine for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid. Surely, pleading the 5th is a legal form of obstructing justice. Yet, a shock-proof, slim majority still elected him.

On Nov. 4, after all the evidence, will Floridians get rid of Rick and the shade of Dick — or are voters still willing to be tricked?

Stephen L. Goldstein is the author of “The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit” and “Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned.” He lives in Fort Lauderdale. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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One comment

  • Mike Archer

    October 7, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Rick Scott’s corrupt behavior exceeds Nixon’s. Expectations are so low today that he skates by. Democrats are famous for not voting, and republicans now vote like sheep for a straight GOP ticket.

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