Rick Scott makes it easy enough to dislike him. The temper tantrum he displayed at last week's debate, refusing for several very awkward minutes to walk out on stage because Charlie Crist had a small fan and that's no fair — the kind of petulance you'd expect from a 3-year-old, or maybe a self-important multimillionaire who's just used to always getting his way — is merely the latest footnote in a long and storied case study of awfulness. It's not just that he has all the charisma of a tapeworm — seriously, watch the man speak; as one of my Facebook friends put it, he's more malfunctioning robot than human being — or even that time his company engineered the largest Medicare fraud in American history, which should have been a deal-killer four years ago.
It's also that his entire administration has been engineered as a Tea Party wet dream, from the moment he signed his first budget surrounded by right-wing geezers in The Villages to the draconian budget cuts to education (some, but not all, of which has been restored) to his abominable environmental policies to his pathetic dodging on climate change to his solicitous affection for Big Sugar to the billions of dollars in corporate tax breaks to his desire to insert the government into a woman's uterus to his refusal to call Florida's ban on gay marriage discriminatory.
And then there's his and the Republican legislature's biggest failure of them all: the failure to expand Medicaid, passing up $66.1 billion in federal funds, and leaving more than 1 million low-income Floridians without coverage, just to stick it to President Obama.
Yeah, screw that guy.
But then there's Charlie Crist. A man who flunked the bar exam twice (and — a testament to his political skill — went on to be the state's top lawyer anyway). A shameless political chameleon of the first order, willing to flip on a dime to gain the slightest advantage. A ceaselessly ambitious politician who, throughout his career, never stopped seeking the next brass ring, eyes always on the next prize — legislator to wannabe senator to education commissioner, education commissioner to attorney general, attorney general to governor to wannabe vice president to wannabe senator to wannabe governor. And then there's the fact that, the last time Crist held the Governor's Mansion, his inner circle was almost comically corrupt: Crist's handpicked right-hand man, Jim Greer, racked up more than $7 million on the GOP's charge card and devised a scheme to steal $125,000 from the party, for which he spent more than a year behind bars.
Screw that guy, too.
But yeah, I voted for him anyway. Rick Scott needs to lose. Not just because he's a terrible governor, but because the Florida Legislature, taken over as it has been by conservative ideologues, desperately needs a check on its very worst impulses. And three years from now, when the state begins its every-20-years constitutional revision process, I'd much rather have Charlie Crist appointing 15 of the 37 commission members — members who will shape the course of this state for decades to come, far beyond the scope of one gubernatorial term — than a lame-duck Rick Scott, indebted to far-right and big-business interests, with nothing to lose.
So how's that for a very tepid endorsement? No matter how it plays out, I'll be quite pleased when this farce of an election is over.