The newly re-elected Mayor of Jacksonville, John Peyton, just passed by the desk I'm working this morning. Nice guy.
And I don't use the term "nice" lightly. Despite all the blowhards that are currently the voice of the Republican party, there are some good guys in there. I'm happy to say that a number of them are in Florida.
Yeah, I know. Florida: Red State. 2000 Election. Yeah, that Florida.
Both our previous mayor (John Delaney, who now presides over my Alma Mater UNF) and current mayor are Republicans. But they aren't the Republicans we've grown used to and tired of in the past seven years. They aren't social policy Republicans who abuse their power and whose character is defined by their arrogance. They are Republicans of a bygone era. In short, they are people I can respect. Our new Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, also falls into this category. He hasn't exactly been chummy with the President (He notoriously blew him off late in his campaign), and he's taken some nice first steps in his new office (primarily his move to get rid of the flaky touch screen voting machines).
With every good Republican there is a bad one, of course. Katherine Harris reared her scary head in the elections last year, as did local-boy and insane homophobe Randall Terry. Thankfully, the people of Florida were sane enough to send these two people back to wherever they came from.
And then there's Jeb. He who helped give the 2000 Presidential Election to his dear brother and perhaps change the history of our country irrevocably for the worse. Yet, believe it or not, I even like Jeb, and I'll give you an example why I feel this way.
During the 2004 hurricanes, it was a tough time for most Floridians. All five hurricanes seemed to choose different paths so that maximum coverage could be achieved and that no part of the state went untouched. During the moments when we did have power, Mrs. Mosley and I watched breaking news updates on television. There we saw state officials and weather experts give the latest information and instructions for how to best handle the crisis.
Jeb was there, too. He gave his assurances that the state was on the job and that things were being handled. He would then hand the microphone over to another official and step back into throng of people around the podium. And Jeb seemed to be there for every one of these updates, which were frequent. He seemed to actually be sweating the travails of his state and the sincerity of his concern showed. That means a lot to people going through a crisis, and I know that my opinion of him went up during that ordeal.
Just compare that to his brother's performance during Katrina (whose feeble imitation of caring spoke as loudly as his inaction in terms of his regard for Louisiana) and the difference is day and night.
None of this is to say Jeb is perfect. There is still the 2000 Election legacy as well as his mishandling the Terry Schiavo case back in 2005. But taken as a whole, I have to say that his character puts a lot of his fellow party members to shame.
Back in December, George Bush Sr. memorably broke down in tears when recounting Jeb's handling of a previous political defeat. I know I'm not the only one to think that, perhaps, Bush 41 was thinking at the time "It should have been you, Jeb. It should have been you". Yeah. Pity, that. Because, if that's what he was thinking, then half of his tears were probably over the fact that Dubya has ruined the chance of any other person named Bush from ever sitting in the White House for a loooong time.
When Dubya took office in 2001, Republicans got high and mighty about him bringing "integrity" and "character" back to the White House after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. After all that has happened in the past six years, all they can really claim now is that the blowjobs have stopped (and even that I'm not 100% sure on).
Anyway, I'd like to extend my congratulations to John Peyton. Also, and this is a bit belated, but I'd like to say goodbye to Jeb. I won't give him some backhanded lesser-of-two-evils compliment, but I'll genuinely say that I grew to like him as governor. He did his Pappy, and his adopted State, proud.