Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scott 2012

From Adam C. Smith of the St. Petersburg Times via the Miami Herald:

Rick Scott for president in 2012?

Absurd as it sounds, people who have talked to Florida’s tea party governor about the Republican presidential field are convinced Scott has a bid lurking in the back of his mind.

“I’m not running for president,’’ Scott declared last week. Probably he won’t.

But let’s say the field of Republican candidates still looks muddled and uninspiring come November. Let’s say no one has managed to persuade Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to get in the race. Let’s say fed-up tea party activists still dominate the GOP primary electorate and show no enthusiasm for the “electable” Mitt Romneys, Tim Pawlentys and Jon Huntsmans of the world.


Any normal politician would recognize the ludicrousness. One of the nation’s most unpopular governors, not even a full, rocky year into the job, running for president?

Remember, though, Scott is no normal politician. A lot of people thought it nuts for a fellow known mainly for running a company that paid the biggest Medicare fraud fines ever to think he could win statewide office — in Florida.

Scott pulled it off, though it took spending more than $70 million of his own money. That was only about one-third of his net worth last year, so he still has plenty to self-finance a formidible campaign operation in early primary and caucus states.

Another consideration: Scott often appears to care much more about his perception in national circles than in Florida.

He appears constantly on Fox News. He’ll show up for the opening of an envelope in Washington if it involves hob-nobbing with Beltway celebs. He caught the political bug founding Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, a group to combat healthcare reform, and constantly frames issues in a national context. Barack Obama was more of a foil in his gubernatorial campaign than Democrat Alex Sink, and he still frequently criticizes the president by name.

Folks outside of Florida may laugh, but here in Florida this dude has been doing his business for five months, and by any objective measure, he’s a disaster. I know card-carrying life-long Republicans who shudder at the mention of his name. One of them said the reason Mr. Scott is bald is because he can’t comb his hair; his image won’t appear in a mirror.

There’s no doubt that he has always had his eye on national office. Why not? In Republican circles, his record of shady business and corruption is a feature, not a bug. And while he campaigned on putting Florida to work, he and the GOP legislature decimated the state budget for schools and the environment, gave a lot of tax breaks to his rich friends, ran roughshod over the rights of doctors and women, and passed a bill regulating baggy pants in high school and outlawing sex with “dumb animals.” (So the legislature took a vow of celibacy?) He’s teabagger catnip.

There’s a move afoot to amend the state constitution to recall the governor. It would be an arduous process, and by the time it’s actually done, Mr. Scott’s first term will be up, he’ll be in the joint, or he’ll be Michele Bachmann’s vice president. One way or another, his reign of terror will be over.