Last week ended with an explosion of senseless noise and cruelty – so much so that it caused the presidential campaign to adopt a "Now's not the time for politics" tone, and President Barack Obama cancelled his July 20 appearance at Rollins College – but the newsdump underbelly remained alive and well. We can't help but imagine that some Republicans may have been glad to see some of the most stinging headlines drowned out by the wails of mourning.
For instance: More foot dragging in the trial against former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer. Ah, timing is everything. On Thursday, an Orlando circuit judge acquiesced to the hems and haws of the bloated man's defense team, who said that there just wasn't enough time to cull through all the "emails, notes, memos and reports that mention Victory Strategies," Greer's former mythical consulting company, by the scheduled July 30 court date, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Get a search button!
Anyway, as with most stories involving this case – and, well, the nature of Greer's megalomaniacal existence and the party's pinky-swears of secrecy – the drive to political distraction is almost as important as the financial misdeeds for which Greer is on trial. You'll remember that Victory Strategies allegedly bilked the party out of $200,000, while the party brass itself allegedly had a thing for charging the fun kind of parties (the ones wrapped in travel and booze) to RPOF credit cards.
We have, indeed, been talking about this forever.
So why the delay? Well, we could go with the stated concern by Greer defense attorney Damon Chase, who only became the lead attorney last month in what must have been a horrific game of musical chairs or draw the straw. Chase portrayed his client to the Times thusly: "Jim has been absolutely adamant, 'Let's get this thing done.' It's certainly a setback … but it's the way things had to be."
More astute observers of, we don't know, things directly happening before your eyes, might be a little more cynically inclined to draw the conclusion that the rescheduled court date of Nov. 12 – a cute six days after the presidential stakes and a good couple of months after the Republican National Convention descends on an underprepared Wild West of Tampa – had a little bit more to do with the last-minute delay.
Greer was, after all, arrested two years ago. Do you think your attorneys would be able to sit on their hands that long? Doubtful.
But, hey, it's not like these are real human beings facing a real law, anyway, right? Surely Sen. Marco Rubio – the former state House speaker – is dancing around his mirrored bathroom to the delightful sounds of Huey Lewis and the News right now. Fore!
Somewhere trapped in the fetid litigation of the RPOF scandal and its bizarre continuance was the recent accusation that party-hopper Charlie Crist – characterized by Greer more than once as becoming an enemy – was a big old homosexual. While news of that old yarn (one we first discussed here last decade) may have blown over into tabloid insignificance, the latest round of concerns about the larger RPOF throwdown have put the party in a defensive posture, one that once again maintains Crist as its whipping boy. Though Crist left the party in 2010 to become an independent as well as a television-desk shill for law firm Morgan & Morgan – which, it should be noted, cut a $10,000 check to Gov. Rick Scott's Let's Get to Work political action committee in the second quarter of this year – Republicans started sounding the alarm when a July 20
Washington Post op-ed written by Crist forced website Politico to pull out the proverbial rhetorical headline on Saturday: "Is Charlie Crist mulling a comeback?" Oh, fuck.
At issue was Crist's somewhat scathing take on the current attack by Republicans on Florida voters via suppression laws.
"[I]'m concerned that zealots overreacting to contrived threats of voter fraud by significantly narrowing the voting pool are doing so with brazen disrespect and disregard for our greatest traditions," Christ cooed in typeface. "As a result of insidious political maneuvers and a lack of respect for voters, we in Florida have been entangled in litigation."
We in Florida are always entangled in litigation. This didn't stop the editorializing voices of both the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times from jumping on the "there's news hidden in here somewhere" bandwagon, suggesting that at the very least Crist was becoming a Democrat and at the most, he's planning a bid for the governor's office in 2014. Yeah, after donating to Scott's PAC, that's definitely what's going on. More likely, Crist is just tired of pretending to care about your car wreck from your yawning morning television and wants to sound relevant again. Cue the fans! The sweating man is back!
Not to be outdone by the increasing pinkening of the GOP stakes, Crist's story took a backside backseat to that of virtually powerless Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll last week as Carroll – who is being accused of being a lesbian by a former employee who illegally recorded her conversations (allegedly) and then tossed a cigar into Carroll's trash can, or something – was forced to respond to the allegations in a fairly public way.
Carroll took to the airwaves of Tampa television station WTSP on July 15 to cool the coals a bit, talking about, among other charming things, how awesome her marriage of 29 years is. "So usually black women that look like me don't engage in relationships like that," she said. Translation: I'm too pretty to be a lesbian!
Our friend Nadine Smith, who is both black and a lesbian, and leads gay-activist group Equality Florida, didn't take the jab so well. She took to thegrio.com blog to say, "There are many ways for a person to deny accusations, but Lt. Gov. Carroll reached into her anti-gay bag of tricks and ended up hurling a series of stereotypes about women, lesbians and black people in one fell swoop. The hyper, nervous giggling didn't help matters."
In fact, the whole fracas may not be helping matters for Carroll, giggling aside. By Saturday, the Palm Beach Post was pulling out its magic headline machine to declare that "Fla. lieutenant governor's GOP convention cachet plummets with office scandal." What's that you say? A black woman who was probably going to be a nice chess piece for the monochromatic good-ol'-boy collective known as the RNC is now in trouble? At least to some of her colleagues she is.
The chairman of southwest Florida's Lee County Republicans told the Post, "I'm sure the lieutenant governor was designated to have some role at the convention, but there's too much smoke around this story. This is not the kind of thing you want floating around when you're promoting the nomination of your party's presidential candidate."
Yeah, because those standards are pretty high these days. Let the games begin.