Friday, 21 August 2009

Executing John Marek for Senate

When I was looking for coverage of John Marek’s execution yet to see if there were any complications with the lethal injection, I ran across one of the more disgusting news stories I have ever seen.

Governor Charlie Crist, who is running for U.S. Senate against arch-conservative and hero of the far right Fmr. House Speaker Marco Rubio, allowed the AP into his office so we can all get a first hand look at what goes on in the 48 minutes leading up to an execution. Read it and gag:

Gov. Charlie Crist silently held two framed photos of Adela Marie Simmons as a voice came over his speaker phone Wednesday evening, telling him the next in a series of eight syringes was being injected into the arm of the man who killed her.Crist’s office was silent except the whir of the air conditioner as his chief of staff and three members of his legal team sat and listened with him for each update in the execution of John Richard Marek. After the last syringe was injected, the voice said, “Team leaders have a flatline” and a few seconds later, “The doctor has confirmed he is deceased. Time of death 6:33.”

The article goes on to detail, minute by minute, the process of finding out whether the appeals have all been denied and the gruesome intricacies of the actual execution.

I am imagining the moment when a young, intrepid PR person in the Executive Office of the Governor conceived this half-baked idea over a martini at Cafe Cabernet. When selling it to the Governor, they likely told him that this will appease the victim’s rights crowd, appear transparent, show the electorate some intrigue and suspense since they enjoy those cop dramas so much, and, most importantly, demonstrate to the hard right, the folks he needs to win the Senate primary, that he is tough enough to kill someone. But this really just fell flat, not just for folks who oppose the death penalty but likely for the majority of the electorate who already sees this Governor as an unprincipled politician who puts political expediency ahead of every thing else and, this case, common sense.

No one really thinks for a second that Charlie Crist or anyone in government gives a hoot about Adela Simmons or her family. Her pictures are nothing more than props in a movie scene where the Governor and his staff are the main characters and the AP is behind the camera yelling “ACTION!” His comments about her being a “beautiful lady” appear completely contrived. Would they be trying to get mileage off a photo opportunity if the victim was a busted, cracked out prostitute, yet heinously murdered? Well, you know the answer to that one.

There is no doubt that the death penalty is divisive issue and that no matter what a governor does, a subset of the electorate will always feel aggrieved by the decision whether or not to execute a capital inmate. But any sane person would recognize that this kind of macabre, kabuki theater unnecessarily politicizes and trivializes what is likely the most serious act a governor partakes in and, frankly, is beneath any governor, including Charlie Crist.


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