But without ideological milestones, these attacks against one another did show the difference that matters. One of these guys is a rich vanity candidate whom many of us suspected might be running on a dare. The other is a long-time public servant with an actual record to stand upon. Ethical charges seem to mean Florida is destines to see a lot of negative advertising this election cycle (though we're used to it), but it is worth noting at this point how long the list of Greene's lapses is compared to Meek's.
Tonight, Meek rightfully took Greene to task over this 2007 trip to Cuba. Greene says he took the boat into the embargoed nation for repairs, or on a Jewish philanthropy mission, or a vomit party, or to get Mike Tyson some drugs. Really, who can remember all the way back to 2007. That's like trying to recall if you voted for Ronald Reagan.
People who talk about the Dennis Stackhouse scandal like it is the sort of baggage that could sink Meek really need to pay better attention to the scandals which surround every other serious candidate in this race. Fortunately, Meek showed in the debate tonight that he can go toe to toe with well-monied loudmouths who are running out of cards to play in this crazy race. And, I imagine, Greene is starting to realize how thin his ops research folder on Meek looks compared to the plethora of scandal starting to dog his campaign.
An excerpt from the debate via the Miami Herald/St. Pete Times:
``Why didn't you go to your two United States senators in California,'' Meek asked Greene, who moved to Florida less than three years ago. ``You're a man of wealth, you're a man of influence, you're a man of power ... You decided to profit first and then go on national television and gloat about the money you made.' "
While some polls put out last week, had us all on edge, Democratic voters are on crunch time now. As they hear more about this race, they want to learn more. And a few days ago, it seemed that hunger for information was paying off for Meek. Whether Greene's old lead was a bump or an outlier, it seems as if things are breaking Meek's way once again with USA Today reporting a four-point lead.
The problem with Green is that all these mailers which look like FBI files on Meek are now old news. The more one learns about the Stackhouse scandal, the more it seems Meek was swindled, not that he was part of a great conspiracy. And unless an Ethics Commission indictment gets handed down, which seems unlikely, there isn't any more juice in that rock.
But Greene has a treasure trove of problems already on record. He made billions betting against homeowners and the banks had to pay out his winnings just as the FDIC was shutting them down. He bragged about his super-deals to Forbes from about his 145-foot yacht. (By the way, do you think Greene wishes he purchased a better toy than the Summerwind right about now?) This trip to Cuba, which is more than minor indiscretion in the world of Florida politics, seems to be gift to Meek that keeps on giving.
And since all the general voter knows about Greene is that he came from nowhere and blew a bundle on this race, these scandals stick a little nastier than usual. Meek, along with Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist, is on Crew's crooked list, but has a list of accomplishments to fall back upon. Greene only has a money pit.
Which makes the children's tale that Jeff recalled today all the more ridiculous. Again, via the Herald/Times account:
``I was brought up as a kid that if you have nothing good to say you say nothing at all,'' billionaire Palm Beach real estate mogul Greene said.
And yet, he speaks.