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Senator Rick Scott speaks at a Herschel Walker campaign event on Oct. 11 in Carrollton, Ga.
Senator Rick Scott speaks at a Herschel Walker campaign event on Oct. 11 in Carrollton, Ga.Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images, file

Rick Scott is the wrong senator to pick a fight over ‘likability’

Rick Scott wants to talk about some of his colleagues' "likability." There is a degree of irony to the Republican’s line of attack.


As a rule, it’s best not to look back at political history as the “good old days.” There’s a temptation to look at what’s become of contemporary American politics and long for the halcyon days of years past, but any serious analysis makes clear that at least some of the problems plaguing us today have existed for generations.

That said, the Senate really has changed.

In the not-too-distant past, senators were so concerned about collegiality that they were reluctant to endorse their colleagues’ opponents, even from the other party. Senators donating to colleagues’ rivals was rare and traveling to colleagues’ home states to campaign for rivals was unheard of.

The idea of a sitting Senate leader going on national television to slam colleagues as unlikable on a personal level would’ve seemed ridiculous, and yet, Politico ran this report yesterday.

Sen. Rick Scott criticized two female senators — Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.) — for being unlikeable, a political barb frequently used against female politicians. ... During a Wednesday interview on the Hugh Hewitt show, the Florida senator discussed the Washington and New Hampshire Senate races, showing support for the Republican candidates while hitting the female senators for being unlikeable.

“Patty Murray is just not likable,” the Floridian declared. “I mean, who likes Patty Murray? She’s not nice to anybody. And so I think unfortunately for Patty Murray, to Hassan in New Hampshire, they know her. They don’t like her.”

First, Murray and Hassan have perfectly fine reputations on Capitol Hill, where they enjoy the respect of other senators.

Second, it’s generally unwise for male politicians to take cheap shots at their female colleagues’ geniality.

Third, the next time Scott is looking for Democratic co-sponsors for one of his legislative proposals — if, that is, he gets around to taking governing seriously — he probably shouldn’t invest too much time reaching out to Hassan and Murray.

But even if we put all of that aside, there is a degree of irony to the Republican’s line of criticism. Rick Scott wants to talk about others’ likability? I’m reminded of this Washington Post report from July about a recorded conversation between operative Roger Stone and Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Stone and Gaetz spoke bluntly as the congressman awaited his turn onstage. They discussed their mutual dislike of Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). Stone called him “such an a--hole,” and Gaetz said he was “one of my least favorite people I’ve ever had to work with.”

I realize the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is willing to say whatever he deems necessary in the hopes of winning every possible seat, but he might want to steer clear of this particular line of attack.