Opinion: Committed to Crist, or should Crist be committed?
A moose is an animal with horns on the front of its head and a hunting-lodge wall on its back. So goes an old laugh line.
These days, Charlie Crist is the moose of Florida politics. He appears to be a threat for sure, though he is not threatening at all once you turn on the lights and see the hunting-lodge wall on his back.
Make no mistake, Crist once was a real threat. Then Republicans showed him the door following the Jim Greer fiasco, and after his multiple flip-flops on lifelong conservative positions, not to mention the infamous hug.
Today, Crist and his smiling face, with his perfectly coiffed silver hair, glows on billboards for ubiquitous trial lawyer John Morgan. Crist now works for Morgan's law firm. His mug frequently replaces Morgan's on TV, allowing Crist to maintain a high profile as he pitches being “for the people” when they get into a car accident or slip and fall at the grocery store.
The refrain is similar to his often-repeated claim of being “the people's governor” when he was in office.
Apparently, the years of nonstop smiling has affected his deeply held beliefs, ever so conveniently around the time he started his year-long courtship with President Obama and the Democrats.
During the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Crist lambasted Marco Rubio for being soft on guns and chastised him for his support of waiting periods and background checks. At the time, Crist was proud of his “A” rating from the NRA, being named “Gun rights defender of the month” by another Second Amendment group, as well as having signed into law a bill allowing employees to take their guns to work.
From his own mouth, Crist said the following about key issues:
“I am pro-gun, pro-family and I am anti-tax, and I always have been.”
“I am pro-life. I support limiting abortion to cases of rape, incest or where the mother's life is in danger.”
“[The] legislation Dean Cannon has been a real champion of is something I support,” Crist said of Cannon's bill allowing offshore oil drilling five miles off Florida's coast.
Today, Crist supports the liberal Democratic Party line to stomp on Second Amendment rights as well as lefty-liberal positions on most other issues of the day. Crist is showing flip-flops aren't just for the beach anymore.
Gov. Rick Scott is guilty of flip-flopping himself, but not as much as Crist. Scott is so awkward in his own skin it is literally painful to watch him interact with people. To say he has some re-election challenges ahead of him is an understatement.
However, Scott has $70 million that says he will beat Crist. He is probably right, because in U.S. politics, money matters. So forget about the polls showing Crist beats Scott handily if the election were held today. The election is not being held today, and Crist has not announced his candidacy, much less secured the Democratic nomination. And Scott hasn't spent a dime to remind people what a chameleon Crist is.
Some say Crist — who is second to none as a masterful retail politician — is the Democrats' only hope — though I haven't found a single Democrat who is excited about his apparent coronation.
Contrary to the stealth Crist supporters, I believe he is the best thing that could happen to Scott.
That is because Crist has the potential to do for Scott what Scott cannot do for himself. Namely, get Republican voters excited about Rick Scott.
Crist is universally loathed among activist Republicans and would energize them into acting for Scott. Even many Democrats say so.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, recently told me, “I think there will be a lot of Republicans who will double-down with Gov. Scott because of their dissatisfaction with former Gov. Crist. If they had a credible, pro-business Democrat alternative that would be a different scenario.”
Unfortunately, for the Democrats, the scenario is not different. The party has no bench.
It reminds me of a classic Woody Allen joke that goes like this:
“A man goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'My brother is crazy. He thinks he's a chicken.' The doctor says, 'Why don't you have him committed?' The guy says, 'We would, but we need the eggs.'?”
As do the Democrats.
Chris Ingram is a Republican political consultant and a political analyst for Bay News 9. Email him at [email protected].