A political activist ambushed Florida Rick Scott when he stopped by a Gainesville Starbucks to get a cup of coffee, calling him an “asshole” and arranging to have the whole encounter videoed, so it could be placed on YouTube, where it promptly went viral. I wrote about it here.
In a sad and petty example of tit for tat, Scott has unveiled an attack video against his tormenter, Cara Jennings, a former Lake Worth city commissioner. Beginning with Jennings asking, “A million jobs? Great, who here has a great job?” a male voice answers, “Well, almost everybody – except those that are sitting around coffee shops, demanding public assistance, surfing the Internet, and cursing at customers who come in.”
Scott’s video was called “Latte Liberal Gets an Earful,” appeared Friday on Scott’s official YouTube channel and features the words “Sponsored by Let’s Get to Work,” which is the governor’s political action committee.
It is hard to imagine a more petty, needless, demeaning example of “punching down.” Jennings isn’t running against Scott; she is just a citizen critic, if an especially rude and nasty one. For a governor to focus an attack ad on a mere citizen is an abuse of power and position. It is ethically indefensible.
It is exactly what Donald Trump would do, though.
21 thoughts on “Gov. Rick Scott Provides A Perfect Example of “Punching Down.””
And now Scott has left himself wide open for anything. Jennings isn’t a plain ol’ “citizen critic,” she is a person who has been a politician and knows all the games, tracked the man down in one of his personal lairs and attacked with loaded camera at the ready, displaying her kill for all to see. If she doesn’t have a history of doing this kind of thing, the only motive I can see is either a personal vendetta or she’s angling for another political job — maybe his. (She may be an admirer of Trump tactics and overweening ambition)
Whatever her reasoning, Scott’s “punching down” video makes him vulnerable to her kicking upward and catching him in a tender pair of scandals and controversies, At the very least, it makes her look good by default, anarchist or not. [unless . . . people have been known to read and/or hear “anarchist” as “antichrist” — now that would really start a row]
Well then, Jennings got what she deserved. Bully for Governor Scott – literally, politically, and ethically. If she commits any further fraudulent “punching up,” giving the appearance of “speaking truth to power” when SHE is the “power” that actually must be “spoken” to, then she will have been exposed for the irresponsible anarchist she is, and for the “standard” she upholds for whatever future political position she takes: “My way or the highway, I am correct, and everyone else, shut up.” Bravo to Gov. Scott for ethical use of tit-for-tat. Bitch had it coming.
This woman has stated she’s currently free-lancing for the Service Employees International Union. I suspect the entire caper was funded and scripted and produced by and for SEIU. (She wasn’t ranting, she was spouting talking points.) I’m not so sure a politician’s and sitting governor’s PAC formulating and releasing a detailed and fully produced response is out of line at all.
A response to shouted insults in a Starbucks? What’s next? What difference does it make that she volunteers for a union? At least when Harry Reid attacks citizens for expressing their opinions, it’s billionaires he’s going after, and that STILL is punching down.
Maybe it’s just because I’m old, but all this internet marketing and politicking seems incomprehensibly ubiquitous and a little mystifying. If a union orchestrates this sort of essentially guerilla mass media advocacy, are public servants supposed to just stand down? I just think we’re in a new world when it comes to media and opinion shaping and advocacy.
And I don’t think a volunteer would refer to herself as a free-lancer. Free-lancers are free of bosses but they are not free of compensation.
Bill, I share your “oldness”, but here’s a piece of reality for you. I have no idea what the actual numbers are, and, frankly, I’m a little scared to find out, but a sizeable fraction of the population, these days, gets their news, information and opinions from the internet, either via computers or smart phones. There is no information-checking and damn little reality-checking. It has gotten to a point that my brother-in-law, whom Jack and I agree is an idiot, will not watch a news program, will not read a newspaper (God knows why. Most agree with him) but gets what passes for his information from web sites that agree with his very wobbly views of the world. He has stated to me that books with a bibliography and/or primary sources can be faked and the internet posts “real” information. He firmly believes, for instance, that the U.S. killed over 1.5 MILLION people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Go figure. Need I mention that he is a Bernie supporter?
DD, I thought you were going to say your brother in law gets most of his information from facebook. Because news and information and political views are now so widely disseminated via all these various goofy means, I think a politician campaigning needs to be able to respond in kind to this sort of guerilla politicking. As in warfare, I think politics has become largely asymmetrical because of all this internet chatter.
Actually, I confess I hadn’t even thought about Facebook. But that might be a very valid point.
You know that what Cara did wasn’t just shouted insults right? She had it recorded, published them, and dispersed them to a wide enough audience that it became part of the political conversation. Call it what it was: It was an attack ad.
I fail to see this as punching down. It FEELS like it should be punching down, governor vs. city politician. But I feel a question has to be asked and answered: At what point does an individual make enough of an impact that someone with power is allowed to respond to their message. The answer can’t be “never”.
From an executive? Never. It chills free speech. He can defend himself, but the personal attack is a misuse of government authority and power.
OK, the YouTube video was an attack ad. Some of my posts about Obama are damning and harsh. Would he be justified in attacking me by name?
Does it make a difference that he didn’t use her name? It seems like a quibble.
If your Blog got enough support and attention that it was actually effecting the possible outcome of a presidential election? Maybe? People have to be able to defend themselves, even if they’re powerful people, and because it’s so easy for private citizens to reach significant numbers of eyes and ears through social networking, perhaps it’s right that we start to treat private individuals as if they have the responsibility for the power that reach gives them. The average person with a cell phone has more access to information and ability to project themselves than the POTUS did 30 years ago.
Makes a big, big difference. When the most powerful persons in a city, state or nation call condemn an individual for speaking opposition, that suggests negative consequences and punishment—public and official ridicule and shame, for “speaking truth to power.”
Well then… He never mentioned her by name.
I think our hangup is in paradigms. I don’t think governors are the most powerful people in a state. Define power for us; Is it the ability to command force? The ability to command dollars? The ability to project oneself? All of the above? More? Political power is fleeting and tenuous. Ask Bill Clinton.
I think that somewhere around the ten million view mark, a person has started to accumulate power in the form of reach over and above the average person, and that power needs to be tempered with responsibility. God forbid that people with a platform think long and hard about what they produce. I’m not saying that Cara asked for this, I’m not even excusing in it’s entirety the ad Rick used (I think highlighting her face and dredging up history was a bridge too far, but up to that and what came after… With all the attention that video got,l he had to say something.), but I think we have to get past the idea that the population at large is powerless. Everyone has a camera, everyone has a platform, and the medium is ripe for abuse (case in point: BLM.).
Come on. He made a personal attack. Wrong.He could counter every word she said without mentioning her at all, and that was his ethical option.
Exactly- he can record a single-camera thought piece where he just answers her points, calls her out NOT by name and wins the whole thing by not being an asshole. But every sign points to his actually being the asshole she called him… He had way better options, but chose this.
I agree about punching down and I agree that it’s venal but not illegal to make such an attack for taping purposes. What I’m curious about is Scott’s claim that everything is hunky-dory in Florida & everybody but those screaming in coffee shops is working. If all these Floridians are happy, how come Trump beat Florida’s native son in the primary? A whole lotta people want changes, in case the governor hasn’t noticed.
Al, it is possible that Rubio lost because Floridians were fed up with him NOT doing the job they elected him to do. Not only that, but he admitted that he hated the job. Note that Ted Cruz, for all his warts, won Texas rather handily.
People here echo the same sentiment that propels Trump nationally: they’re angry at the party they put faith in, and view them all as corrupt, and Trump as some sort of rebel yo rally behind. “He’s not a corrupt politician” is the main thing I get from my conservative friends here in South West Florida.
Mind you I’m not saying it’s a good reason to vote for Trump (still waiting to hear one), just its what they like about him. It also helps that’s hes seen as a sort of anti sjw, extreme to the maxx opposite of the extemist left.
Unfortunately, reversed stupidity is not intelligence.
“He’s not a corrupt politician” makes as much sense as saying of Hillary Clinton that she’s not a homicidal astronaut or that Cookie Monster is not a philosophy professor. If the noun doesn’t fit, then the adjective is superfluous as well. Being in support of anyone because of what they’re NOT — never mind all the unspeakable things Trump IS, makes the supporter (as I believe we’ve seen written a few times on this blog), a dangerous moron.
“He’s not a corrupt politician”
This is an oxymoron. In Trump’s case, you can leave the ‘oxy’ off.