Scott’s habit of promoting himself, photo ops
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]