From the time our daughter, Ella Joyce, was nineteen days old, she’s been been involved in politics. It was at that point in her young life when she met President Barack Obama, who cradled Ella in his arms at a campaign rally. Regardless of what you think about the president, this is and will always be one of the proudest moments of our lives.
Make no mistake though, Ella Joyce is bipartisan. She’s enjoyed the Gasparilla Children’s Parade with the three daughters of House Speaker Will Weatherford. She’s played on the floor in the office of Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto. Senator Jeff Brandes and his daughter, Lottie, come to Ella’s parties. She’s even flirted with Rep. Matt Gaetz (Lord help me!).
So, as you can see from visiting our Facebook pages, Ella is very much part of Michelle and I’s public, political lives. That is because we, as her parents, have made a series of decisions and sacrifices to make sure she is immersed in our lives.
When appropriate, Ella comes with us to political events. If she cries too much, is uncomfortable or distracts from the program, we leave. No worries.
Likewise, Michelle and I no longer go to events that involve leaving Ella with a babysitter. For two formerly on-the-town people like Michelle and I, this is a big change. But we just don’t want to be away from Ella.
All of God’s children are special. If you are or were a wretch like me, this is something you come to understand once you have a child. You also come to understand that no child is more special than another. That’s not to be egalitarian, it’s just parental wisdom. This hard-gained wisdom teaches you that there’s no sense praying that your child grow up and be Tom Brady or the president, you just pray that they have ten fingers and toes — and that nothing happens to them where they might lose one of them.
In fact, it’s a victory each day for any parent if, when they lay their own heads down to sleep, that their child still has all ten of those fingers and toes. I count Ella’s every night!
If you may have noticed, I don’t often blog about Ella Joyce. There are about a dozen posts (out of nearly 21,000 posts published on this blog) about Ella Joyce. The posts are limited to the key moments in her young life — expectancy, finding out her sex, birth, the holidays, etc. But that’s about it. That’s because this is a blog about Florida politics. And as much as I enjoy writing about Ella and parenthood, that’s not what this blog is about.
Of course, I’ll occasionally mention Ella and Michelle in a programming note on Sunburn. I occasionally tweet pictures of Ella. And both Michelle and I regularly post to our personal Facebook pages about Ella. But that’s about it.
However, some Tea Partiers are suggesting I exploit my daughter.
My bets noire, Javier Manjerres, in yet another blog post attacking me and my wife, writes, that I “shamelessly exploits his infant daughter Bella (sic) by posting family pics of her, simply to promote himself, and his blog.”
Yes, that is what Manjarres wrote.
I readily admit I engage in a lot of dirty political tricks, so I will not be the pot accusing the kettle of being black. When I play these dirty tricks, almost any aspect of an adversary’s public life is fair game.
But not daughters and sons. Not my daughter, that’s for sure. Javier, leave her out of this.
Unfortunately, Javier is not the only Tea Partier attacking me through my child.
Pinellas Tea Partiers Daryle Hamel and Dan Tucker (you may remember Tucker as the state committeeman who suggested fellow Republican John Morroni’s brain cancer caused him to endorse Darden Rice for City Council) recently said on Facebook that I use “the ‘family man’ card to overshadow (my) criminal history.”
Yes, that is what Hamel said.
I’m not even sure what Hamel and Tucker are referring to, other than I do my best to be a “family man.” On that we can agree. But I am hard-pressed to see where I have exploited my family to overshadow my criminal history.
My mistakes from eight years ago are right there on Google for the world to see. I don’t downplay them or obfuscate them. I openly talk about them because without having gone through those trials and tribulations, I would not be where I am now.
Most importantly, without going through that valley ,I would have arrived at his mountaintop with Michelle and Ella.
So, yes, Ella and Michelle, are the two most important aspects of my life. I should talk and write about them more. Instead, I write about Charlie Crist and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio and Will Weatherford.
If being a proud father — one who probably dotes a little too much on his daughter — means I am exploiting Ella Joyce, then I am guilty as charged. If I am playing some “family man” card by traveling to political events with Ella and Michelle, rather than Skyping to them from afar, then, again, I am guilty.
But make no mistake, these are ‘crimes’ I intend to commit again and again. And if that makes a few Tea Partiers uncomfortable, all the better.