Senator Rick Scott has had quite a week sitting at the forefront of President Trump’s defense in the US Senate. Along with his ally, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi one of Trump’s defense attorney’s, Florida’s Junior Senator has played a central role in the obstruction of a proper trial. Now he’s taking his act to Iowa to try and influence Democratic caucus goers.
Simultaneously with the trial in the Senate, Scott, who owes his seat thanks in large part to ballot irregularities in Broward County, has interjected himself into the Democrats Presidential nominating process. Scott, who in many ways proved the inspiration for President Trump’s foray into elective politics has now interjected himself into the Iowa Caucus in an effort to muddy up Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat it appears Trump wants to face the least.
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— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) January 28, 2020
The last few weeks we have seen President Trump and his allies go full-on Nixononian in their handling of the upcoming Presidential Election as well as the defenses on alleged wrongdoing. Trump’s paranoia and commentary on Twitter is not that dissimilar to the sort of things President Richard Nixon would say and do under the cloak of a private office as his tapes revealed. A sense of inadequacy, insecurity and paranoia dominated both President’s thinking, and in both cases led directly to an extensive set of alleged impropriaties.
Even with Fort Lauderdale resident Roger Stone, Trump’s primary link to the Nixon legacy out of the picture (we presume) following his conviction for obstructing investigators to protect the President, the Nixon-styled stonewalling, projection and covering-up has intensified from this White House and its allies.
For those not familiar with the Nixonian tactic Scott is emulating, in 1972 Nixon operatives were concerned about the Democrats nominating Edmund Muskie, the Maine Senator and perceived front-runner. They saw Muskie as the most viable Democrat they could face in the November General Election. So they embarked on an effort to stop Muskie and have the Democrats nominate someone that would be easier to defeat. The effort like so many other covert operations undertaken by Nixon’s allies was successful, and by the time it was uncovered publicly, the damage had been done.
Beginning that fall, with the indispensable reporting of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in The Washington Post, it became known how far and wide Nixon’s aides stooped to stop Muskie. Throughout the years more was revealed about the damage done to Muskie. The result was the Democrats nominating George McGovern, a far left candidate who lost 49 states.
Scott has been a leader in attempting to create a gangster style autocracy in Florida. Scott’s quest for power even lead him to snub his more temperamentally conciliatory successor, the equally conservative Ron DeSantis. Unlike Scott, DeSantis has tried to mend fences with opponents. His governing style is very different to Scott’s even if ideologically he is more or less in the same place, with the very notable exception of environmental issues where the current Governor has proven surprisingly moderate.
At the same time as Scott has become the most visible Florida officeholder, many former prominent Republicans in the state have publicly rejected Trumpism, such as Rick Wilson, David Jolly and Mac Stipanovich among others. Florida’s GOP in 2020 isn’t what it was in 2010 before Scott arrived on the scene – it’s became a far more hard-edged party with little room for nuance or compromise. It can be surmised Scott’s style helped drive reasonable Florida Republicans further away from power, and that Trump finished the deal off after his nomination and election.
The goal for Scott is to no doubt play a similar role in Iowa as he has in Florida and as Nixon’s operatives did in 1972. While Scott’s play is more overt than Nixon’s 1972 anti-Muskie effort, the goal is the same – to create confusion among caucus goers and weaken the Democratic candidate the GOP, rightly or wrongly fears the most. In this era of social media and partisan media, Scott can afford to be more overt and direct than Nixon was and will likely count on some Democrats who support other candidates carrying his water in the efforts. That’s partly what happened in 1972 as well, and the party paid for it in November.
Democrats must reject this effort by the GOP’s most undesirable elements to meddle in the Presidential nominating process and prevent a potential repeat of 1972. The similarities between Trump and Nixon are apparent every single day and it’s critical Democrats and others opposed to this Administration stay focused and vigilant in restoring American democracy as it once was.