Reno reaction ill-advised

Just when you think the Florida Legislature’s special session, also known as Fiscal Food Fight ’02, couldn’t get much more bizarre, it does. Thanks, in part, to Janet Reno. But even more thanks to Cuban-American legislators.

Last week Reno, the former U.S. attorney general who’s running for governor, turned up in Tallahassee and was introduced as a guest to the House by North Miami Beach Democrat Rep. Sally Heyman. This prompted about a dozen legislators, mostly the usual suspects from Miami-Dade County, to walk out.

Nice touch. And great for the “cause.”

“We weren’t disrespectful,” sniffed Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami. “We didn’t hiss.” The hiss-less demonstration, of course, was the Cuban-American delegation’s way of reminding Reno — and everyone else, thank you — that they neither forget nor forgive her for deciding to return Elian Gonzalez to his Cuban father last year.

The unflappable Reno didn’t indicate if she were hissed-off or not by the walkout. Deep down, however, she had to know it couldn’t hurt.

Having a bunch of grandstanding South Florida Cuban-Americans walk out could, if anything, earn sympathy for Reno. It’s also a reminder that even if you disagreed with Reno’s Elian position, you could still respect her stand in the face-off with the forces of outrage and intimidation. Finally, how much can you be hurt by a demonstration by those who discredited themselves nationally over the Elian affair?

Waytogo, Mario.

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