Honor, they say, is the bedrock of their character. It is the quality, to quote the U.S. Marine Corps website, that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior.
Clearly, Sen. Frank Artiles skipped that part of his military training.
For I see no honor in how Artiles has behaved in recent days. Not in his insults directed toward a female senator, nor in his reluctance to apologize until it became clear that he had no other choice.
• • •
Integrity, they say, is an uncompromising code to be followed. Along with never cheating, stealing or lying, it is a Marine's duty to always respect human dignity.
Sadly, Sen. Frank Artiles did not take this code to heart.
For there is no integrity in calling the Senate President "a p----" behind his back, nor is there integrity in berating a half-dozen fellow senators with racially charged slang.
• • •
Commitment, they say, promotes the highest order of discipline. It is the ingredient, the Corps' website says, that instills dedication, pride and concern for others 24 hours a day, and establishes the Marine as a citizen others strive to emulate.
Surely, Sen. Frank Artiles falls short in this regard.
For those who would defend him have been curiously quiet, as if there is no indication that his behavior this week is, in any way, out of character.
• • •
You might suggest that it is unfair to hold Artiles to the high standards of the U.S. Marine Corps. I would argue that Artiles has often implied that he holds himself to those standards.
The south Florida senator even brought up his military service on the Senate floor on Wednesday when he spent three minutes asking for forgiveness after not apologizing during the previous 36 hours.
This is the man who witnesses said sucker punched a college student in the face in a Tallahassee bar a couple of years ago. Artiles denied the charges at the time, and then boasted that if he punched anyone in the face they would be in a hospital.
This is the man who accepted freebies from a utility company and donned one of its jackets at the Daytona International Speedway, and then said it had nothing to do with him fast-tracking legislation written by that utility company. The bill allows these regulated monopolies to charge ratepayers — and make a guaranteed profit at our expense — for their gas exploration gambles.
So, yeah, I think it's fair to point out the incongruity of his behavior and principles with the exacting standards set by generations of Marines. And it's fair to wonder if others feel he has brought some tiny measure of dishonor to such an esteemed institution.
Already, there are those who are calling for Artiles to resign from the Senate, including the Florida Legislative Black Caucus and this newspaper's editorial board.
Based on his language, you might even make the case that Artiles is racist.
Instead, I contend only that he is a bully.
That he uses his authority and power to ridicule and intimidate others. That he gets away with intolerance and ignorance by claiming to be blunt and uncompromising.
Should he resign?
In a perverse way, I hope he chooses to remain defiant and continues his planned 2018 reelection campaign. For I would rather he face his own shortcomings every time he shows up in a Senate committee or every time he faces voters back home.
They say once you become a Marine, you will always be a Marine. That's a lofty and honorable ideal. And it should require equally lofty and honorable conduct.