Scott’s habit of pro­mot­ing him­self, photo ops

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Opinion - By Paula Dock­ery

What can we ex­pect from Florida’s new U.S. sen­a­tor, Rick Scott?

Scott gave us plenty of clues in his pat­tern of be­hav­ior dur­ing his eight years as gover­nor. He ran as an out­sider, rode the tea party wave of anger, pulled off an im­prob­a­ble and slim vic­tory and gov­erned al­most ex­clu­sively for his base.

He stuck to a sim­plis­tic mes­sage that he re­peated in­ces­santly. He avoided pol­icy specifics, was se­cre­tive about his sched­ule and re­lied heav­ily on photo ops and self-pro­mo­tion in lieu of ac­tual suc­cesses.

Gee, that sounds fa­mil­iar.

Scott did not work par­tic­u­larly well with oth­ers and was in­ef­fec­tive at fa­cil­i­tat­ing com­pro­mises be­tween the two Repub­li­can-led cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture. He usu­ally sided with one cham­ber, do­ing noth­ing to end a stale­mate. On six oc­ca­sions dur­ing Scott’s ten­ure, the Leg­is­la­ture re­quired costly Spe­cial Ses­sions to fin­ish its work. Two of those — in 2015 and 2017 — were to pass a bud­get.

The sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Scott and Pres­i­dent Trump are strik­ing.

Scott and Trump sold them­selves as suc­cess­ful busi­ness­men. Yet Scott was forced out as CEO of Columbia/HCA af­ter the com­pany agreed to pay $840 mil­lion in crim­i­nal fines — at the time the largest penalty for health­care fraud in U.S. his­tory. He left with a $300 mil­lion part­ing gift. Trump had at least four bank­rupt­cies and a rep­u­ta­tion for not pay­ing his debts.

Both men over­came their neg­a­tives by spin­ning their fail­ures into suc­cesses and vil­i­fy­ing their op­po­nents with care­fully tailored at­tacks based on polling and fo­cus groups. Both claim to be ex­tremely wealthy and love to show off their pri­vate jets while claim­ing to un­der­stand the work­ing class.

In fact, both men cam­paigned in ball caps de­signed to ap­peal to the pa­tri­otic, work­ing man. Trump wore a red “Make Amer­ica Great Again” cap, while Scott donned a navy-blue cap tout­ing his 29-month stint in the U.S. Navy.

Both hate Oba­macare — or more likely the man who crafted it.

Both love tax cuts for cor­po­ra­tions and hate reg­u­la­tions af­fect­ing them.

Both deny cli­mate change and are sci­ence skep­tics.

Both claim to care about the en­vi­ron­ment while dec­i­mat­ing reg­u­la­tions, fund­ing and sci­en­tific staff to pro­tect it.

Like Trump, Scott had re­volv­ing doors for his agency heads and had oth­ers do his fir­ing for him. Both de­mand loy­alty from those who work for them but don’t re­turn it. Both have trou­ble show­ing em­pa­thy.

Both are in­cred­i­bly se­cre­tive about their sched­ules and their fi­nances. And both prof­ited dur­ing their time in of­fice.

Trump and Scott are fond of brand­ing and us­ing short, catchy phrases — per­haps be­cause nei­ther has even a rudi­men­tary un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues and nei­ther shows an in­ter­est in learn­ing about them.

Scott stuck to a sim­ple mes­sage of “Let’s Get to Work” when run­ning for gover­nor and switched to “Make Washington Work” for his U.S. Se­nate cam­paign.

Trump and Scott both ex­cel at stag­ing events and per­fect­ing the photo op. Both are masters of pro­jec­tion, love to take credit and refuse to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Both play hard­ball, threaten law­suits and make bold claims whether true or not.

Af­ter the re­cent elec­tion with his race too close to call, Scott re­acted by su­ing Broward and Palm Beach County elec­tions of­fi­cials, by ac­cus­ing Democrats of try­ing to steal the elec­tion, by try­ing to im­pound vot­ing ma­chines and by call­ing for the FDLE to in­ves­ti­gate the Broward elec­tion of­fice. The FDLE de­clined.

Scott then went to Washington be­fore the re­count was over to cre­ate the im­pres­sion that he was the pre­sump­tive win­ner, and while there pro­claimed he was dis­ap­pointed in ev­ery­body over the fed­eral shut­down.

Scott made dozens of last-minute ap­point­ments even though his suc­ces­sor is also a Repub­li­can.

Since be­ing sworn in, Scott has urged Trump to use emer­gency pow­ers to pay for the un­pop­u­lar bor­der wall, staged a photo op with ICE at the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der and claimed “Cuban thugs” are at the heart of the Venezuela cri­sis.

With no sense of irony or self-aware­ness, Scott said, “This place doesn’t seem to be work­ing very well.”

Can’t wait to see how Sen­a­tor Scott is go­ing to “Make Washington Work.”

Paula Dock­ery is a syn­di­cated colum­nist who served in the Florida Leg­is­la­ture for 16 years as a Repub­li­can from Lake­land. She is now a reg­is­tered No Party Af­flil­i­a­tion voter. PBDock­[email protected]

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