In this season of event speakers having their invitations withdrawn for one silly reason or another, the episode involving Charlie Crist and the Florida Council of 100 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando is certainly one of the most recent. Beyond that, what is there to say?
How about this: If Steve Halverson, a Rick Scott supporter and chairman of the council, acted on his own, he wasn’t doing his guy any favors.
And also this: If Halverson was responding to pressure from Scott or the governor’s reelection campaign, his noodlish spine also wasn’t doing his guy any favors.
And finally this: If Scott or his supporters — official or otherwise — were so much as even remotely responsible (they deny involvement), well, there’s just no accounting for how dumb that is. “Galactically stupid,” said Crist, the likely (Republican-turned-independent-turned-) Democratic nominee for governor, and for once no one raced to correct the record.
This wasn’t a snub, which would have been bad enough. Since its founding in the 1960s, the Council of 100 has always found room in its annual business meeting to hear from former governors. It’s like the Masters. Win it once, and your ticket to enter is punched for life. Even when you’re old and broken and no longer competitive and you need to use a wedge as a walking stick to make it up the 18th fairway, if you want to tee it up, you get to tee it up.
Besides, maintaining tradition wasn’t just the right thing to do — a concept that seems increasingly elusive these days when people are confronted with the prospect of hearing something that may make them uncomfortable from someone whose resume includes disagreeable line items. It was, politically, the smart thing to do. How could anybody not see that?
If whoever was calling the shots had given Crist his 30 minutes before lunch last Thursday, the organization’s center-right membership would have forgotten it somewhere between when servers cleared the entree dishes and brought out dessert. The local media might have given it 30 seconds on the 6 o’clock news and 12 column inches on the jump page, and that would have been that. Something along the lines of: The current and former governor, rivals in the upcoming election, crossed paths here Thursday, and nothing happened. In other news, hummingbirds have begun their annual migration through Central Florida.
Instead, it’s days later and we’re still talking about how the power brokers and/or the Scott campaign done Changeling Charlie wrong, while Roy Orbison supplies the theme music.