Stephen Goldstein: Scott won’t answer questions and too many voters don’t care

Answering questions is as unspeakable to Rick Scott as eating pork is to someone who keeps kosher. The governor treats talking with the press and public as trayf  (Yiddish for tainted food), as though he would be putting himself at risk for the political equivalent of trichinosis.

Ask him anything. And, as if unable to digest its import, he silently bobbles his head, purses his lips, glares in his eerie way, and humps his shoulders, hoping to get off scot-free. If he deigns to open his mouth, he repeats the mantra that he’s “creating jobs” before he skulks away.

Never one to split hairs with an adversary, Scott honed his stonewalling skills as CEO of Columbia/HCA. In 2000, he took the Fifth Amendment 75 times when he gave a deposition in a lawsuit, even when he was asked if he worked for the company he headed. Apparently to save his vocal chords — or was it his neck? — Scott just held up a card that dissed truth-telling: “Upon advice of counsel, I respectfully decline the question by asserting my rights and privileges under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

But refusing to answer is not kosher for politics. During his 2010 campaign for governor, Scott had to “debate” Alex Sink. On CNN, moderator John King tried to pin him down about an off-the-wall slur: “Back in March . . . the Republican Party of Florida compared Alex Sink to Fidel Castro because they both publicly supported the health care bill. Was that over the line?”

Scott answered with a non sequitur, “She supports the health care bill and it’s a disaster.” King again asked, “A comparison to Castro?” Scott answered, “It’s horrible for patients, it’s horrible for taxpayers, it’s horrible for businesspeople.” Unable to invoke “the Fifth,” he fudged.

During the campaign, Scott refused to meet with the editorial boards of Florida newspapers. And in an example of bizarre inhospitality, Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Klas and Palm Beach Post reporter Dara Kam were thrown off Scott’s campaign bus because they asked “pointed questions,” in Klas’ words.

For example, do you accept responsibility for the $1.7 billion fine Columbia/HCA had to pay for Medicare/Medicaid fraud on your watch? His cop-out answers: “Mistakes . . . were made”; “I should have made sure we hired more auditors.” The interview cut short, the reporters were dropped off “somewhere between Ocala and Newberry.”

Unbelievably, after months of Scott’s obfuscating and prevaricating, Florida voters still elected him governor. Since then, it’s been more stonewalling –only worse — because he now refuses to answer questions about his disastrous policies, like his failure to create the 700,000 jobs he promised beyond those that would have been created through normal growth.

So, in 2012, when Bloomberg reporter Michael Bender questioned Scott’s attributing a drop in unemployment to his job-creating policies after the Legislature’s chief economist said it was because people dropped out of the workforce, the governor went on the offensive.

Here’s the transcript of their set-to from the Miami Herald:

Bender: “Are you saying those numbers from the state economist are wrong, Governor?”

Scott: “I’m saying we generated 130,000 jobs.” Bender: “But that’s not all of the…”

Scott: “Mike, I’ve answered all your questions on that.”

Bender: “But, no, my question is about the unemployment rate drop…”

Scott: “Mike! I said I’ve answered all your questions.”

Recently, Tampa Bay Times reporter Steve Bousquet wrote about a variety of Scott’s “artful dodgings.” After four tries, WFTV’s Lori Brown still couldn’t get Scott to answer why the broken new website to process unemployment claims was taking so long to fix. He blew her off, saying that his priority was to create jobs.

Another time, when WFLA’s Mark Douglas asked the governor how a registered sex offender got a state license as a massage therapist, Scott simply said how “exciting” it is that Florida’s crime rate keeps dropping.

In November, voters need to wise up. Beware of bald-faced lies. What the governor has to say isn’t worth a matzoh ball, let alone a pork chop. Don’t swallow any of it. It’s trayf. Scott doesn’t get political trichinosis. He gives it.

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.

Guest Author

One comment

  • Sandy Oestreich

    October 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Rick Scott is our UNindicted governor.

    We MUST change that. Vote Charlie Crist. No angel, he, but he’s not likely to steal $4.63 BILLION from us like Scott did.

    What ARE Republicans Thinking? To Vote for Thieving Scott is to ask for more of the same against Republicans and the rest of us.

    It defies logic. It corroborates charges that Republicans ARE members of a dreaming neo-medievalist cult. Why do they love being hated by voting for scum?

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704