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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Brian Darling is only the fall guy

Posted by Bob Brigham

Yes, Republican's wrote the Schiavo memo. Yes, the write wing bloggers (Powerline) have egg dripping off their long noses. Or was that egg on their keyboards. Yes, liberals won. Yes, the wingers wanted to make a big deal out of the memo and we should oblige.

But the one thing that is missing from the conversation is the fact that Senator Mel Martinez has a history of forcing staffers to take the fall for his decisions.

In fact, when Mel Martinez won, his blaming of staff was a major concern for the editorial board of the St. Petersburg Times (Nov. 4, 2004):

When challenged, Martinez was too eager to assign blame to his staff or to groups he said he couldn't control. As a senator, he will need an office and a staff that speaks with the measured and centrist tone he says will be his own. He can't pretend to be above it all if the people he employs are not.

In Florida it is even a running joke:

From Jim Defede, Miami Herald October 3, 2004 (B1):

In the hotly contested race for U.S. Senate, candidate Mel Martinez has stayed on the offensive, first against fellow Republican Bill McCollum and now against Democratic nominee Betty Castor. Since we expect more of the same in the final weeks leading to the Nov. 2 showdown, the following is how I imagine next week's strategy session will go between Martinez and his campaign staff.

Martinez:Good afternoon everyone. Where are we?

Staffer No. 1:Well, the polls are still very close. It's a dead heat between you and Betty Castor.

Martinez:OK, any ideas?

Staffer No. 2:We could try debating her on the issues.

Martinez: Issues! Are you crazy? No, what we need to do is slime her just like we did Bill McCollum in the primary.

Staffer No. 1:Are you sure you want to go negative, sir?

Martinez: Oh, I'm not going to go negative. You guys are. This week, Danny and Tom will issue statements suggesting the reason Castor supports stem cell research is because she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and that she is mentally incompetent to be a senator.

Staffer No. 2:Is that true, sir? Does she have Alzheimer's?

Martinez:Of course not. But once you guys say it, some nitwit's going to believe it. And if the media goes nuts and blasts us for being insensitive, I'll step in, act disgusted by your assertions and repudiate you as a couple of ''young turks.'' But even after I distance myself from your remarks, some people will still believe Castor is sick. This is going to be great.

Staffer No. 1:I'm sorry, sir. There is only one problem. You can't call Danny and Tom ''young turks'' because you already called Pete and Bobby ''young turks'' after you had them accuse McCollum of being in bed with the ''radical homosexual lobby.''

Martinez:Darn it! [Pause in conversation. Martinez can be heard talking to himself.] Think, Mel, think. I got it! We'll call them overzealous.

Staffer No. 1:Nope. We used that one for the guys at the ad agency that produced the commercial labeling McCollum ''antifamily.''

Martinez: OK, how about rogue staffers? You guys wouldn't mind being rogue staffers would you?

Staffer No. 1:No, sorry sir, you called Carlos and Hector rogue staffers after they issued that news release you wrote for the Spanish-language radio stations calling the federal agents who seized Elián González ''armed thugs.''

Martinez: Well-intentioned but misguided?

Staffer No. 2:That's what you said about Sandy and Diane after they said Castor was an accomplished thespian in college.

Martinez:Renegade? I don't remember condemning anyone on my staff for being a renegade.

Staffer No. 1:Well, we were saving renegade for the commercials suggesting Castor may have been a founding member of al Qaeda.

Martinez:[Sounding annoyed.] Look people, I can't do this on my own. I need your help. I realize none of you like being repudiated. Do you think I like repudiating you? I don't. But I made it very clear from the beginning that this campaign was going to be based on one simple theme: plausible deniability. I can't get elected if people are going to hold me accountable for the mean and nasty things we're doing. My only hope is to blame each and every one of you.

Staffer No. 2:You're right, sir. And, I think I speak for everyone in this room when I say we are all honored to be the kindling in the bonfire of your vanity.

Martinez:OK, I have no idea what you just said. Sounds like homosexualist talk to me, but nevertheless if it was an apology, I accept it. Now let's get back to the hard work of this campaign. Remember, the mud isn't going to sling itself people. In the meantime, get me a thesaurus because for the next 30 days I'm going to repudiate each and every one of you like my life depended on it.

Martinez was given this warning before he was even sworn in as a Senator. He's in the big leagues now and he was given proper public notice that his old tricks would no longer be tolerated. Brian Darling isn't the one should be taking the fall.

Posted at 02:46 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - Senate, Florida, General | Technorati