Jim Greer No-Shows His Scheduled Radio Interview: Why Would He Do That?
Around the State
Jim Greer, expected to conduct his first live radio interview since he was sentenced to 15 months in prison, mysteriously failed to show Tuesday night.
The empty chair left program host Leslie Wimes of Women on the Move to reshuffle her questions for the one guest left, Greer's biographer Peter Golenbock.
Wimes said she spoke to Greer, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, on Monday. He sounded in good spirits, had ideas for questions she might ask and was looking forward to chatting about Crist on the "Let's Talk Live" Blogtalkradio.com show.
That's clue No. 1 that something's fishier than my Uncle Joe's oyster house.
Began Golenbock, "Jim is really very sorry and hopes everybody will understand, but he is distraught and just wants time to himself, time to go off and be with his family for a couple of weeks. Remember, he only got out three or four days ago."
Why didn't Greer deliver the cancellation news to show host Wimes personally? Greer and Wimes have each other's telephone numbers.
Clue No. 2 is Golenbock's attempt throughout the 60-minute interview to tilt the conversation away from Charlie Crist and at Republican Gov. Rick Scott instead.
Wimes and co-host Kathy Scott (no relation to the governor) wanted to talk about Crist, the most pivotal figure besides Greer in the Greer biography "The Chairman." It was Golenbock's book. It should have been a piece of cake.
Nevertheless, the author, an affirmed Democrat, spent much of the hour pardoning Charlie Crist -- no, not really pardoning, but painting him as "the lesser of two evils," the bigger evil being Rick Scott. In fact, when Kathy Scott pointed out that "the lesser evil" is still an evil, Golenbock said dismissively, "This is the reality of politics today."
When Kathy Scott said she was amazed that Crist "hasn't got one sliver of Democrat in him," yet African-Americans favor him, Golenbock said, "Well, I hope so, the Republicans put the bones in Obama's nose."
Throughout the program Wimes produced a laundry list of Crist's indiscretions, all documented in "The Chairman." To which the book's author replied, "Well, Charlie Crist has done some dishonest things, clearly he has. But while Scott was president of this health care company (HCA), he stole $1.6 billion from the federal government and when they asked him about it, he pleaded the Fifth (Amendment) 75 times."
Wimes stopped him there. "Wait a minute, that's not right," she said. "I keep hearing that and it's wrong. When Rick Scott took the Fifth 75 times it was in an entirely separate case." (Golenbock wanted proof and here it is, in a PolitiFact Florida report from October 2010.)
Poor Leslie Wimes. It reminded me of the game "pin the tail on the donkey" -- as if Golenbock were a blindfolded kid at a birthday party, staggering off course to get attention from the other kids, leaving Wimes each time to go get him and turn him back around.
With Crist's shadowy past, his wrong fit and so much bad mojo circling him, the women asked, why not former state Sen. Nan Rich?
Replied Golenbock, "Charlie, for all his faults, has a presence. He lights up a room. ... He's been doing it for years. He's probably the second most famous person in Florida today. Nan is a lovely person but ... this is the race as it exists."
Strange point of view, I thought, for a man who claims to care a great deal for Greer -- the man Charlie Crist screwed like a shoulder bolt, who personifies all the qualities in a politician Golenbock abhors. The race "as it exists" offers Democrats a choice.
But what the author is saying is, in spite of all his condemnations of a lack of decency in politics today, particularly among Republicans, decency won't cut it for the Dems this year.
When prompted, Golenbock talked about some of the juicier aspects of Greer's tenure as RPOF chairman -- for instance, George LeMieux as "the master," who made Charlie's problems go away; Charlie's ability to keep Greer from resigning earlier by playing on his loyalty ("You can't leave, because if you leave, they'll be coming after me next"); and the names and number of people who knew Charlie lied under oath when he said he had no knowledge of Victory Strategies.
Nevertheless, the author revealed nothing that isn't in the 400-page book.
It's patently obvious what happened here Tuesday night. Greer and Golenbock were "got at."
As crazy as it sounds, somebody intimidated or blackmailed or bribed Greer to lay low for "a couple of weeks." I would bet my paycheck on it. Why a couple of weeks, I don't know. What I do know is, it's in neither party's interest to hear a man who speaks believably talking in public about things that could turn elections or ruin powerful politicians.
And Golenbock? Isn't it obvious his party pressured him into going easy on Charlie Crist? He wrote a book that did otherwise. But the way around discussing the book in damaging detail was to do exactly what he did: Change the subject. Deflect criticism. Attack Republicans generally. Go after Rick Scott -- always a winner with a largely Democratic audience.
Golenbock was caught between soft-peddling Charlie Crist and maintaining what sounded to me Tuesday night like genuine loyalty to Greer ("Jim Greer is a lovely man" and "I believe every word" in Greer's book). But he did what he had to do. What's another cover-up in this bizarre story of politics in the Sunshine State?
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.