There was the time Janet Reno found her mom wrestling an alligator in the kitchen. And there was that propensity to answer calls at home no matter the hour. And of course there was her appointment as perhaps the most prominent official from South Florida in national government.
But what really made reporters and her charges love Janet Reno, who died this past weekend of complications related to Parkinson's disease at the age of 78, was a complete lack of bullshit.
Reno was no James Comey, the FBI director who has made a splash in front of the cameras because of his outsize sense of himself. As Miami-Dade County state attorney, a position to which she was reelected for 14 years, Reno let her prosecutors do the talking and take the credit. She stayed in background, listened well to those who served her, and made wise decisions.
Sure, she blessed the seizure of Elián González and return to his dad in Cuba against the wishes of a community where she was born. This took political courage. And though she usually said "No comment" again and again and again during those late-night phone calls, she could be helpful.
I remember during the case of Joe Gersten, the disgraced Dade County commissioner who fled after having his Mercedes stolen while getting a blowjob from a hooker in a crack house, she said only a word or two that confirmed Gersten had lied and assured Miami Herald reporters we were on the right track.
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Reno made mistakes. She, like many, was perhaps too soft on the Clintons. And as shown in the clip above, she didn't dance well.
Then there's this memory from former Herald executive editor Tom Fiedler:
"Sad news about Janet Reno. Of the many memories I have of her when she was State Attorney and later as US Attorney General, two came immediately to mind when I heard the news. The first was her unflinching refusal to accept any favors. She always carried coins with her as she traveled around Miami or Washington — even in her official car — so that she could feed the parking meters like everyone else. (She also paid the sticker price on the truck she bought because she didn't want anyone to say later that she had gotten a "special deal" because of her office.) Second, she once publicly chided me at a League of Women Voters forum for my practice of refusing to vote in any election that I covered, including the presidency. That, she said, was an abrogation of my duty as a citizen. The audience cheered...She was a rare public servant and a rare human being. RIP, Janet."
In this era of partisanship and big mouths, she was a model for us all.