Most politicians elected to Congress develop a sense of when to keep their mouths shut. But not Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Never Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The Democratic queen of hyperbole -- when she's in front of a TV camera anyway -- scooting from danger like a lost squirrel in the middle of left field at Yankee Stadium -- keeps on babbling the darndest, the craziest things.
And she gets away with it. She survives. By the grace of God, a heavily liberal Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beachconstituency, and a Republican Party that can't seem to find anyone, even with her weaknesses, who can take her down.
Her latest faux pas? Just the other morning on FOX TV, shewarned that unless climate change is addressed in a few short years, rising sea levels will force her to represent areas more than 200 miles away.
I will eventually represent Orlando if we dont do something about making sure we can reduce global warming, she told a national TV audience. Wasserman Schultzs current residence, in Weston, is 224 miles from Orlando. "FOX & Friends" host Tucker Carlson was in hysterics.
She cautioned that her community wouldnt be the only one at risk. Coastal communities all across the country are facing dangerous sea-level rises, which will ultimately cause homes to be underwater in a few short years, said the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, who -- considering the proximity of the disaster awaiting us -- hasn't given up driving her car or traveling by jet, living without air conditioning or otherwise setting an example for us all.
Watching Wasserman Schultz's Chicken Little routine for the umpteenth time was a hoot, I admit it. But then I started to think about how many times the sky above her or somebody else was falling. And I wondered how many times I can write the same story? Bear with me for a minute and let's walk down W-S Memory Lane:
-- In March, Wasserman Schultz was literally laughed out the door when she complained to a House Appropriations Committee that a combination of cuts over the past two years has robbed Washington's impoverished, six-figure-salaried congressional aides of nearly 11 percent of their personal budgets. Why, these poor souls couldn't even afford to go to lunch, she said.
-- Last September she so embarrassed high-ranking party leaders with shoot-from-the-hip misstatements to CNN's Anderson Cooper, downright inaccuracies and even a charge of thuggery, that there were rumors she was a danger to Obama's re-election and could have the DNC chair yanked from under her. It didn't happen. In the presidential campaign's closing days, Obama looked strong in Florida. The Debster survived in style, emerging as an Obama confidante.
-- On the campaign trail last year she told CNN's Candy Crowley Obama's strength in Wisconsin would defeat Gov. Scott Walker in the recall election. Later, as Walker's position strengthened, she retreated on camera like the Germans from Stalingrad. "I never said that," she insisted.
-- CNN had laughed at her in disbelief a few months earlier when she blamed the entire tea party movement for the shooting of her colleague, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, despite the apolitical state of the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner.
It's all on record, and far more. Yet for all her exaggeration, for all the jeers and laughter she attracts, for who-knows-what reason ultimately, Wasserman Schultz remains a popular figure unlikely to fall at the polls in 2014, in 2016 or in the foreseeable future.
She represents a dark-blue district on the Gold Coast -- 48 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican and 25.6 percent "other." In 2010 she beat Karen Harrington 60.1 percent to 38.1 percent. In 2012, when the GOP threw a ton of money into Harrington's campaign, Wasserman Schultz still cruised to a 63 percent to 35.5 percent victory.
The GOP loves to go after this woman, and who can blame them? But they have to find their own rock star in this liberal fortress. Repubs who have shown an interest to challenge in 2014 -- God bless them -- aren't going to cut it: Joe Kaufman and Karen Harrington -- ho-hum, both been there and fell flat as a flounder. Then there's Iraq War veteran Mike Giallomeardo, a young businessman, miles to go in the money chase, hard to think he's the one.
Believe it or not, one Republican South Florida consultant told me, "We're just waiting for Wasserman Schultz to put one foot out of step." Really? The woman steps all over herself, practically chews off a foot, every time she opens her mouth and still she has rock-star celebrity at home where it counts.
I can laugh at her, Candy Crowley can laugh at her, Anderson Cooper can laugh at her, Tucker Carlson can laugh at her, half the national Democratic leadership can wince when the cameras set up in front of her. But Debbie Wasserman Schultz has a magic about her and she isn't going to fall until something or somebody special comes along to rain on her parade. Mark my words.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423.