The Mt. Everest of Pettiness: Gov. Rick Scott, 'Fan-Gate' and the Farce of Fairness

Gosh darn it, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott wants you to know that fair is fair and that he plays by the rules. He's going to make his opponent sweat and feel the heat (literally), even if it means putting a floor fan ahead of a debate about the future of Florida.
10/18/2014 05:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Gosh darn it, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott wants you to know that fair is fair and that he plays by the rules.

He's going to make his opponent sweat and feel the heat (literally), even if it means putting a floor fan ahead of a debate about the future of Florida. Nothing says more about conservative politics in this day and age than this premeditated display of principle and conviction, even from the former CEO (Scott resigned in the middle of the federal investigation in July 1997) of a company that according to Politifact.com in 2010 "pleaded guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies and agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines and civil damages and penalties." Rules are rules, however, and like a good bureaucrat, Florida's governor wants America to know that one liberal's sweaty pores won't get in the way of fair play.

Sure, America today is as soaked with as much injustice as Charlie Crist's boxers on a hot summer day. According to The Washington Post, "A nationwide audit by the Department of Veteran Affairs found that 57,000 veterans have been waiting more than 90 days for an appointment and that an additional 64,000 requested medical care but never made it onto VA waiting lists." This is how we treat the 2.5 million men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting terrorists and insurgents while we watch the latest reality shows at home. To make matters worse, the eight minutes Rick Scott took from the debate could have focused on the 36,662 veterans in Florida who have to wait an average of 433 days for a first time disability claim to be addressed by the government.

It's all about fair play, that's what the Florida GOP wants you to know. Both Democrats and Republicans, sadly, haven't been fair to the people who protect this country. Charlie Crist's fan might have flaunted the rules of their recent debate, but both Scott and Crist should have been talking about the VA crisis that's still ongoing, even with The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. According to The Wall Street Journal in an article titled, VA Reforms - More Hurry up and Wait, even this new law might not provide the "fairness" exemplified by almost walking out on a gubernatorial debate:

On Aug. 7, President Obama signed into law a $16.3 billion bill to "overhaul" the Veterans Affairs health-care system. The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act was lauded by the White House and Congress as a law that put vets back in the driver's seat.

But that's just not so.

Supporters claim the new law allows veterans to see private doctors more quickly. Not true. Only in cases where the veteran has waited longer than the "wait time goals" of the VA can that veteran be seen by an outside doctor...

The law also creates a "Commission on Care" to examine the quality and accessibility of the VA health-care system. That sounds good. Trouble is, the commission isn't in any hurry. The VA secretary has a full year just to appoint the members. Quick to enact, slow to act.

...Congress passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act instead. Which provides little real choice and even less accountability.

Congress almost passed a sweeping veterans bill earlier this year, but 41 Republican Senators voted against this landmark veterans bill. Oh well, at least politicians will take a stand against floor fans.

Poll numbers show Crist ahead in some polls, while Gov. Scott ahead in others, so it's difficult to see how "fan-gate" will ultimately affect the race. According to an NPR article titled, How The Florida Governor's Debate Became #Fangate the Scott campaign showed more indignation over a fan than the "stubbornly high" poverty rate in Florida:

It was not long before Brett O'Donnell, Scott's debate coach, noticed and raised objections...

On Wednesday night, Gelber said, just minutes before the scheduled start time, O'Donnell pointed at the fan tucked beneath Crist's podium and made a big sweeping arm gesture, like an umpire calling someone out, then turned and stomped off.

"The Scott folks went literally berserk. They were just running around screaming at everybody, the station, the people who were hosting the event, Leadership Florida, just going literally nuts, saying they were going to cancel the debate," Gelber said. "It was just the most bizarre thing we had ever seen."

It would be nice if Crist, Scott, or Congress, went "berserk" over the multitude of real issues our country faces; dilemmas that correlate directly to the overt unfairness and blatant disregard for rules prevalent today in American society.

Probably the most blatant example of a disregard for the rule of law and justice is the fact that nobody has gone to jail for the horrendous 2008 financial collapse. If you steal an iPod from Best Buy, you're going to jail, but if you almost bankrupt the global economy, nothing happens, as illustrated by Matt Taibbi in a Rolling Stone article titled,Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?:

Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth -- and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people...

The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom -- an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities -- has ever been convicted...

The mental stumbling block, for most Americans, is that financial crimes don't feel real; you don't see the culprits waving guns in liquor stores or dragging coeds into bushes. But these frauds are worse than common robberies. They're crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let's steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money through a captive bureaucracy.

As illustrated by Matt Taibi, one can be linked to a crime of billions and not be sentenced to the time of person who steals a Snickers bar.

With fairness like this in America, at least politicians are putting their convictions ahead of their challenger's moist skin.

Does the situation faced by our veterans, people who defend this country and then fight a war of paperwork and bureaucracy at home, make Charlie Crist's attempt at utilizing a fan any more just? No. Does the fact our financial system obviously favors banks over the average Joe mean that Rick Scott didn't have a right to be upset over the now infamous floor fan? No. Do the issues of wealth inequality and every other unfair aspect of American society make Charlie Crist's egregious use of air less offensive to conservatives? Probably not.

The "fan-gate" issue is one of symbolism. When a politician attempts to prove a point about fair play, in a world where so many American citizens are getting railroaded, it sends a horrible message to voters. Gov. Scott's stunt exemplifies politics in 2014 because substance is camouflaged by fabricated principles. In a society where lawmakers are always being caught in sex scandals and bribery charges, "The Most Insane Moment In Political Debate History" just happened the other day. Needless to say, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas are probably rolling over in their graves. Unlike Crist and Scott, they were able to debate without focusing on petty desires, or putting manufactured publicity ahead of the monumental issues affecting all Americans.