The Mouths of Babes

By Joe Registrato, Contributing Editor

Editor’s Note: Joe Registrato’s After The Morning After column is Joe’s way of saluting and remembering Tom McEwen, the late, great Sports Editor of The Tampa Tribune, whose Morning After column was a staple of the original Tribune for more than 30 years.

Here we are on the eve of Election Day and I was going to write, again, about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the big new electric shock coming over the weekend concerning a new batch of emails, this time with an Anthony Weiner angle, of all things. Who would have guessed there would be another sex angle? I can just picture those guys at the supermarket tabloids drooling over the possibilities: “Weiner Texted Hillary, and Trump!” Or, “Weiner Texted Hillary Secrets to Aliens.” I wonder if the writers get bonuses for that stuff.

But then I got to thinking about something I learned when I was practicing family law, how my divorcing clients would battle constantly over which parent got to spend more time with the kids. I don’t know how many times I heard parents argue, “You can let them play soccer (or little league or dance lessons or Tae Kwon Do) on YOUR time, that’s not happening on MY time.”

At that point, if I was lucky, a wise old judge might chime in, “Listen, folks, it’s not your time (pointing to the father) or your time (gesturing toward the mother). It’s the kid’s time. Remember that. You’re arguing over your children’s time with you, not your time with them.”

That would usually slow things down a bit, give them a minute to see the big picture before they went back to scratching each other’s eyes out.

So can we take Donald and Hillary out of the picture for a minute and think about the kids? I’m talking about us, you and me and our kids, who are going to have to live with one of these two faces on television virtually every day for at least the next four years whether we like it or not. Sobering thought, huh?

So, if the kids had their way, what would they ask for?

I’ve already used up some space in this column to map out some ideas for what I think the next president might work on (homeless mentally ill people for one thing, in case you’ve forgotten), but just for now I’d settle for some peace and quiet. Can’t those people in Washington and Tallahassee, instead of backstabbing and squabbling over every paper clip purchase and assistant deputy secretary’s appointment, just go back to work and make the government hum the way I think the founding fathers wanted them to?

For instance, can’t we have an America where most people can, to borrow a slogan from the U.S. Army, “Be all that we can be”? That means be able to go to college, hold down a job, own a car and a home, and raise some kids?

Can’t we have an America that can compete with every other country in the world for producing good stuff, cars and computers that last a good long time, houses that stand up to hurricanes and floods, and make that stuff affordable for the average person?

Can’t we have an America where dangerous criminals go to prison but people who have made a mistake caused by drugs or keeping bad company get a second or even third chance at a normal life and not be unemployable because of a criminal record?

Can’t we have an America where some people who work hard and are very smart can make a comfortable living and even get wealthy, but where almost nobody starves or must sleep under a bridge or on a park bench?

Can’t we have an America where every single person can go to a doctor or hospital and get the treatment they need even if they have no money; and even if they have some money, without worrying about a trip to the hospital costing them their life savings?

Can’t we have an America where people of all races are treated equally and nobody is killed or arrested because they are a certain color or nationality?

Can’t we have an America where people from other countries can travel to the United States and become American citizens and help keep America strong?

Can’t we have an America where generosity is more common than greed, where courtesy is more common than rudeness, where a lost child or a lost dog will be kept safe by us until they find their way home?

Like some kids caught up in a divorce, I’m starting to wonder what I did to deserve this. Am I to blame for these two people fighting like teenagers in a schoolyard? Why are people all around me acting like they’re itching for a fight, and not a political or intellectual fight, but a real fight, a street fight with sticks and stones and fists? Even on television, I see people on the news channels that are usually smart and know all about government, screaming at each other and talking over one another like a bunch of school children who can’t agree on whether to have hot dogs or pizza.

And like some kids caught up in a divorce, I’m starting to get scared, scared that maybe one of them will remember something I said about the other one, now that they hate each other so much; and maybe when it’s over they’ll take it out on me; and I worry every night now that maybe it will be like this forever and I’m wishing I wasn’t here at all, and maybe it would be better if I would just leave — maybe then they’d stop fighting.


Joseph J. Registrato is a journalist and lawyer. He was a news reporter, assistant city editor, city editor and assistant managing editor of The Tampa Tribune from 1971 to 1987.   After graduation from Stetson College of Law, he was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1989, and was an assistant state attorney with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office from 1989 through 1991. He was in the private practice of law for more than twenty years in the areas of family law, criminal defense and appellate practice. He is now an assistant public defender at the Hillsborough County Public Defender’s Office of Julianne Holt. He is a U. S. Marine Corps veteran and served in the conflict in the Republic of Vietnam in 1968-1969. Registrato is a contributing editor of



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