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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The FL-17 Congressional race the South Florida news media ignores


My comments follow this pointless Jan. 30th, 2010
Beth Reinhard column on Jeb Bush that didn't
need to be written and which, fortuitously, seems
to have been completely ignored by readers.

Miami Herald
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics/AP/story/1454784.html
Jeb Bush is back, and some think he's looking presidential
Beth Reinhard
January 30, 2010

MIAMI — When Jeb Bush left office four years ago, his public appearances were as scarce as bi-partisan man hugs.

He didn't want to upstage his successor in the governor's mansion nor his brother in the White House. Instead, he quietly cashed in by joining corporate boards and an elite speakers bureau, penned policy essays and gave infrequent interviews to conservative media.

But in recent months, as the Republican Party of Florida has grappled with a leadership vacuum, Bush's political profile has grown as fast as the national deficit.

He headlined a fundraiser for Bill McCollum's gubernatorial campaign, starred in a YouTube video touting Jeff Atwater's campaign for state chief financial officer and helped install state Sen. John Thrasher as the state party's heir apparent -- all the while looming on the sidelines of the fierce Republican Senate primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.

The capper came Thursday when, at the top of the 7 o'clock hour, right after Vice President Joe Biden, Bush made a rare network television appearance on NBC's Today Show. The intensely private Bush's interview with the overly familiar Matt Lauer rattled Florida political circles.

Was this the beginning of a Jeb juggernaut that would culminate in a 2012 presidential bid?

"My wife called me immediately and said he looked presidential,'' said Thrasher, who as the former House speaker helped Bush lay down his agenda. "I said, `Who knows? We'll see.' I'm ready to go to Iowa any time he's ready.''

Bush's comments about Crist's support for President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan got the most attention, but his call for Democrats and Republicans to work together was the biggest clue to his national ambitions.

"I think that leaders on both sides of the aisle need to figure out where there is common ground and at least focus on that,'' he said. "It's one thing to give a good speech. The other thing is to invite people that don't agree exactly with your point of view to build consensus.''

This from the governor who presided over some of Florida's most hyper-partisan battles of the last decade? Who helped declare his brother the winner of the 2000 presidential recount, threw out affirmative action with the "One Florida'' program, made the FCAT the end-all be-all of the public schools and insisted on getting in between brain-damaged Terri Schiavo and her husband?

But Bush's front-page days are long gone. Lady Gaga could learn a thing or two from the ex-governor, who has stayed relevant without killing us with overexposure. He picks and chooses candidates to support and the causes that matter most to him. He recently made a rare appearance in the Capitol to promote education reforms and helped launch a national group to elect Republican state lawmakers.

Though he hasn't given an endorsement, Bush has been an undeniable presence in the Crist-Rubio race. Consider: His well-placed compliments for Rubio and subtle digs at Crist. The involvement of his family's longtime fundraiser, Ann Herberger, in the Rubio campaign. The reception co-hosted by sons George P. and Jeb Jr. that raised $100,000 for Rubio.

If the race goes down to the wire, or if Crist launches a full-scale attack against Rubio, some Republicans predict Bush will speak out.

"If Jeb is going to publicly support Marco, it's better to keep the suspense building and do it closer to the election when voters are paying attention,'' said Rubio supporter Ana Navarro.
"Jeb Bush stumping through Florida for a Republican candidate makes a difference. Jeb Bush knows that. Marco Rubio knows that. And I suspect Charlie Crist fears that.''


Presidential?
No sane, well-informed person thinks that

Above, a perfect example of the longstanding

problem at the Miami Herald:
the non-story
that crowds out the more deserving.


It's been an epidemic over there since I first
returned to South Florida from the Washington, D.C.
area in late 2003, after 15 years of reading
at least 5-6 newspapers most days,
plus countless journals and weekly magazines
covering all aspects of public policy.
Not bragging, mind you, just stating the facts
so you know where I'm coming from.

When I first started to write a few quick thoughts
about this particular Beth Reinhard column last
Wednesday night, February 3rd at about 9:35 p.m.,
more than three full days after it was published,
this column had
elicited zero "recommends"
from readers and
zero reader comments.
Like it was never seen... a ghost.
And like a ghost, lighter-than-air.

That's very amusing to me because when I first
saw it
shortly after it was posted online, I was
initially tempted to leave a biting maybe even
snarky comment
about what I thought this
column really shows -contempt for the
diminishing number of Herald readers
.

But since as we all know, the Herald's online
comment site allows readers
less space to
comment than almost any Florida
newspaper
or media site around, and I have an infinite
amount of space here at Home Sweet Blog,
once again I wrote myself a note
about this,
and resolved to return to it a few days later.
In this case, I've waited to see how it all
turned-out.

(Someone finally wrote a comment last

Thursday afternoon on the Herald's site
for the Saturday morning
column
-five long days of invisibility.)


That it was ignored for so long pleases me
to no end, since it only serves to confirm
once again what I've thought for a long time
about the Herald's downward spiral in
quality and sense of purpose.


To illustrate this, let me bring up something
that will be before us for months this year,

Consider the fact that though we've known
since last summer that South Florida's
FL-17 would have a new face come this
November, rather than take advantage
of that and show local readers and viewers
what's going on, the local media's abysmal
coverage of that congressional campaign
thus far has consisted largely of five
sentences
from Beth Reinhard of the
Herald, one of which was a list of candidates
names.
Talk about underwhelming!

The story had all the electricity of a list
of Honorable Mention winners at the
County Youth Fair being read on a
scratchy elementary school PA system.

If you doubt me, here's the proof.
Read it for yourself and try to explain
it away.


Miami Herald
CONGRESS
11 seeking Meek's seat BETH REINHARD
December 2, 2010

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek's campaign for the Senate has unleashed a torrent of candidates vying for his Miami-Dade congressional seat in 2010.

Eleven candidates -- 10 of them Democrats -- are running in the predominantly black district.

Haitian businessman and civic activist Rudy Moise announced he was running in October, held a press conference Tuesday in Liberty City.

The other Democratic candidates are Leroy Adam, Marleine Bastien, former state Rep. Phillip Brutus, state Rep. James Bush III, Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson, state Rep. Yolly Roberson, Roderick Vereen, Miami Gardens Councilman André Williams, and state Sen. Frederica Wilson.

The only Republican candidate is Corey Poitier.

-----

Satisfied?
More than two full months later, that's still
IT.
That's the sum of the Herald's coverage
of FL-17.



So, in a year full of dynamic and interesting
possibilities, where we've already seen the
unexpected occur in Massachusetts, despite
the D.C. and Boston political chattering class
poo-pooh Scott Brown's chances of being
elected to the U.S. Senate, pronouncements
which the people of Massachusetts promptly
and overwhelmingly ignored, rather than
getting pro-actively engaged and follow the
eleven announced candidates themselves
as they to forge coalitions locally and see
how their their opinions and ideas evolve
-or not-on a whole range of issues,
like health care, Cap & Trade, etc.,
what has the Herald and the rest of the
South Florida news media done?

They've chosen to ignore the one new
Congressperson that all of South Florida
knows we'll have, and instead, given much
more political attention to what, exactly?

To Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's phony
anti-democratic Tele-Town Halls, which had
all the excitement of day-old bagels served cold?

No, the Herald and Company completely
downplayed her inability to appear before any
crowd that wasn't pre-selected and staged.

In fact, the Herald's Editorial Board and
the local TV political reporters didn't even feel
the need to go after low-hanging fruit that was
positively begging for some mention.

Even when Town Halls were front page
news stories all over the country, and a small
reminder of what we were all taught was the
cornerstone of participatory democracy,
they resisted the urge to sagely mention that
DWS' aloof, robotic manner and lack of humility
and unwillingness to publicly meet her
constituents -and opponents- when she's
a certified gerrymandered shoo-in, makes it
much harder for labels like DEMAGOGUE
not to stick to her like glue -forever.

Despite all the media kisses and kid-glove
treatment she's received over the years locally,
as well as the likes of MSNBC's Chris Matthews,
and the silly talk of bigger office in store for her,
DEMAGOGUES like her rarely if ever rise in
Washington beyond a certain level.
I saw it on Capitol Hill for myself, year-after-year.

Regardless of how liberal or conservative someone
may be when they vote on Capitol Hill, personality
traits still count for a lot, and Members of Congress
do NOT usually vote for people to fill party leadership
posts who actually irritate or annoy them too much
to be trusted with power.
Nancy Pelosi is the exception to the rule.

It's also why if the GOP ever takes over in the next
few years, it's more likely than not that Mike Pence
of Indiana will be the Speaker of the House, not
current House Minority leader John Boehner,
from Ohio, who rubs a lot of Republican members
the wrong way, and whom many do not personally
find either savvy or trustworthy enough to be Speaker.
(You'll see.)

That's why I wrote years ago on my blog that unlike
was often the case with congressmen who have
represented me over the years, like Dante Fascell,
Frank McCloskey and Lee Hamilton,
two of whom I saw on a weekly basis for years
while I lived in the Washington area, no Member
of Congress would ever think to ask DWS what
she thinks in order to help them make up their
mind on a tough approaching vote.
DWS
is a cog in a machine, like The Borg.

Free will does not compute with her.

Her use of pre-selected crowds at her Tele-Town
Halls, in a district where she is guaranteed
re-election, is but the latest and most obvious
proof of that.
I almost feel sorry for her, except for the fact
that she has consciously chosen to go the route
she's gone, so whatever happens to her,
it's her own fault.

Now, with an election to decide the FL-17 seat
in less than nine months, in a year when the
GOP could/may take back 40 House seats,
NONE of the announced candidates has publicly
campaigned in the Broward County portion
of this district, which as it happens, includes
my own part of Hallandale Beach.

Personally, I've never voted for someone
for Congress whom I have not met or
spoken to.

I'm not about to start.

So here's a question.
What would happen if an articulate, well-informed
moderate Anglo candidate were to jump into the
FL-17 congressional race against what is now an
all African-American, all Miami-Dade County group
that doesn't or won't campaign in Broward County?

Would it take something like that for the South Florida
news media to finally pay attention to the campaign
race?

Perhaps not, but at least then some real issues
would finally be raised and discussed publicly,
and the self-evident weaknesses of so many
of the announced candidates could be properly
exposed to voter's scrutiny, and a well-qualified
candidate could actually emerge who represents
the WHOLE congressional district, not just part
of it.

That is NOT happening now.

Something to think about.

In future posts here, I'll have some good
probing questions for you to ask FL-17
candidates, especially if they want to get
votes from the well-informed people I know
and speak to regularly.






Broward County Ethics Committee meets on
Wednesday mrning at County HQ
on Andrews
Avenue, Room 430, 8:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.


See my previous article on South Florida news
media ignoring the FL-17 race, here. from
Sunday, November 8, 2009
South Florida media blows easy lay-up on health care reform -what else is new?
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/south-florida-media-blows-easy-lay-up.html

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