by Benjamin J. Kirby
It happened this week. President Obama slow jammed the news, and Team Romney criticized him for it. Eric "Etch-a-Sketch" Fehrnstrom said that Obama was "making light of the struggles of youth voters." Nevermind that Obama is actually suggesting Congress take action to prevent several key rates from doubling for students and families, which is on-track to happen soon. The Romney Campaign plan, communicated articulately as ever by the candidate himself, is to "borrow money from your parents." Like he did.
And the mainstream media continued to serve the public good by pretending this is a balanced, reasonable debate with merit on both sides. In their defense, it is the time of the insufferable White House Correspondent's Dinner. Nobody does anything normal when Hollywood visits D.C.
So I brought it home a little bit and started thinking about Florida and politics. Not that we're any better here. We have a governor who managed to veto funding for rape crisis centers during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. You just have to imagine one of those photo-op moments, perhaps at the Governor's Mansion, with him at his desk, veto pen in hand, cameras clacking and flashing, surrounded shoulder to shoulder by rapists, applauding and laughing as he signs.
This is the same governor with a jones for drug testing welfare recipients... which the courts continue to find unconstitutional.
It's the very same governor who slashed the unholy bejesus out of education initiatives and programs in the Florida budget. He calls it the "education budget." Of course.
And it is the same governor who continues to gut science and technology budgets for students here and across the state, and yet kowtowed to Senate Budget chief JD Alexander -- whilst pissing everyone else off -- in creating a USF Polytechnic school, which is apparently not ready to stand on its own.
Anyway, I've been frustrated with the whole thing. Just a mess.
But I have been thinking about what I call the bench for Democrats.
I'm talking about the folks whose names you probably don't know. I'm talking about the people appointed by the governor. They sit on a ton of boards and commissions (like the one I work for; so let's be clear on that. I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about the Board Members; the people for whom I work.).
Think about it. Since 1999 -- Jeb Bush -- we've had appointees to the various boards and commissions throughout Florida who met certain... criteria.
Look, I'm not saying they've all been bad. (I'm certainly not saying my board is bad. They're not.) I'm just saying that the field for one side has been an awful lot bigger than for the other. That's twelve or thirteen years of folks who maybe didn't necessarily want to run for office -- or didn't right away. Getting an appointment is a good way to get started in the business of politics and government.
So I was thinking ahead to who's going to run against Rick Scott in a year or so, and why.
Policy-wise, there are just too many reasons to count. I'm trying to think of a thing the governor has done where I agree with him.
Nope. Can't do it.
So some good Democrat is going to step up to the plate here sooner rather than later (I'd note that State Senator Nan Rich already has, but she won't be the only one). It should be easy for them to draw distinctions between their own policies and the record of destruction being left by the current occupant of the office.
But one of the big things I'll be looking for is who this person surrounds themselves with. Who will this person have on their campaign? What sort of hints can we take about who this person will appoint to the hundreds -- I don't know, maybe thousands -- of offices state-wide.
It's a big deal. It's a huge deal, and though it won't be the front-page battleground where the gubernatorial campaign takes place, it will be an important campaign subtext.