So far six Republicans and five Democrats are running to fill the congressional seat Ron DeSantis never really filled: as absentee congressmen go you can’t do much worse than DeSantis, who’s been too busy competing with his wife for television airtime to worry about his district, which includes all of Flagler County.
I miss the days of John Mica. On paper he isn’t ideologically that different from DeSantis, who’s more reactionary than Republican. But Mica is all about constituent services, where ideology becomes irrelevant. Primarily a showboat, DeSantis doesn’t like to work that hard. He’s doing us a favor by resigning to run for the Senate seat of Marco Rubio, that other professional absentee. But that’s opening the way for the second mauling of congressmen wannabes in four years.
They’re all men, some of them quite serious and with impressive backgrounds, some of them not so much, like Democrat Richard Dembinsky, a serial runner who’s tried for Congress and State Senate before, and who introduces himself to voters with this opening gem on his web page: “I initially was going to apologize for voting for President Obama but after a difficult day doing irrigation piping work that required a grubbing hoe to remove a sprinkler head and the pvc fitting I have determined I am stupid or extremely unlucky!”
Dembinsky is good for a laugh but he isn’t a serious candidate. Ormond Beach Republican Pat Mooney is: he took in the most cash among the 10 in the last quarter. So the baloney he spews has to be taken seriously.
At an April meeting of the Volusia County Republican Executive Committee, Mooney in the space of 54 seconds managed to compare all Syrians to terrorists and all tourists and immigrants to cattle, and, after assuring his audience that immigrants have no right to privacy, called for all visitors to the country to be chipped, tracked, and of course thrown out the moment they overstay their visa.
The comments were recorded by the News-Journal’s Mark Harper, prompting Mooney to call it “gotcha politics at its worst.” No, Mr. Mooney, that’s not gotcha anything considering that Harper gave you the chance to take back the micro-chip comments. You didn’t. You repeated it: “I was merely making the point we need to secure a border and track who comes in and out.”
Nor were the comments Harper recorded taken out of context. They were part of a sustained if legally demented, factually challenged and unquestionably bigoted screed against foreigners in general and Arabs and south-of-the-border brown skins in particular. Clearly, Mooney has issues with non-Aryan stock. That’s no longer unusual among a certain breed of Republicans who pledge allegiance to Trump and think civil or human rights theirs to dispense like papal indulgences. Fortunately, they’re a minority, but a minority unhinged enough that it’ll the GOP by November, when Hillary Clinton will walk away with the largest electoral landslide since Reagan in 1984.
For all that certainty, letting slurs like Mooney’s pass as so much political rhetoric is not an option. He could still end up in Congress. He has every right to speak his mind (assuming I have my anatomical geography right). But he wasn’t speaking to his priest in a confessional. He was asking for votes. When bigotry—or carelessness or ignorance—is his currency, our apathy is his accomplice.
The screed in context is plainly ugly and worse than the snippets Harper reported: “I believe in proper, legal immigration. I do not believe in out-of-control illegal immigration. I do not believe we should have Syrians coming here, not because they’re Syrians. I don’t believe—I don’t want anybody coming here who might be a terrorist threat. I want my children to be safe. Freedom without safety means nothing. They have freedom in Libya. It’s not safe. Everybody is leaving Libya. They have freedom in Syria. The ISIS control [inaudible] but there is no freedom, it’s all chaos. I do not believe in organized chaos. I think you have to build the wall on the southern border. I think Donald Trump was 100 percent right on that. I think you have to look for the visa overstays. If we can find out where every cattle is in America because they all have a chip in ‘em, we can find out where every person visiting the United States is ‘cause we can do something with it. We have cards, we have chips. They’re not American citizens, they’re not afforded the same rights where they—we are, as citizens, so when they come here, we can track ‘em, we can make sure they leave. It’s easy to do.”
There’s no question this bull bears tracking.