Crist's Core Belief

Living in Florida gives one some firsthand experience with political drama. It’s now official that Governor Charlie Crist is going to leave the Republican Party and run for the  U.S. Senate as an independent.

Crist was so far behind Marco Rubio that he had no hope of overtaking him in the Republican primary, so he opted for the independent run.

In doing so, Crist has made himself a pariah within his old party. No one who values the Republican identity wants anything to do with him now. It will be interesting to see how he is going to build a team for his run. He is quite likely commiting political suicide.

If one were to ask just what Crist stands for, the best one can discern is that he wants to be a middle way between what he would call the extremes of the Republicans and Democrats. But what does this middle way really signify? What are Charlie Crist’s core beliefs? One might be forgiven for believing he is hollow at the core.

In Crist’s one and only direct confrontation with Rubio, which occured on the Fox News Sunday program about a month ago, the moderator, Chris Wallace, continually asked Crist if he would remain a Republican. Crist looked uncomfortable with the question and danced around it, using language that indicated he was running as a Republican, but he didn’t come across to me as one speaking with conviction on that point.

Now we know he was dissembling [you can look up that word if you wish, but it comes down pretty close to “lying”].

The predominant opinion in conservative political circles is that Gov. Crist is a man with no solid philosophical basis for his views of government. Instead, he is a pure pragmatist, twisting in the wind and following where it blows. And it always seems to blow in the direction that allows Crist to maintain public office no matter the cost.

I think I’ve discovered what Charlie Crist believes in. He is primarily looking out for himself. He is not someone I can support because his reason for being is simply to promote Charlie Crist.

May this move backfire in a big way.

The "Stupid" Strategy

Have you noticed the strategy employed by the Democrats over the past three decades? You might have to be as old as I am to see the pattern, but it’s now very obvious. I call it the “stupid” strategy, which is aimed at any Republican who is a threat to actually win the presidency or any other high office.

It all started with Ronald Reagan. When he ran against President Carter in 1980, the whispers began, then rose to a crescendo: he’s a dumb actor; he’s simplistic; he just reads everything from little cards; he needs a nap every afternoon; he’s not smart enough to be president. Democratic functionary Clark Clifford famously referred to Reagan as an “amiable dunce.”

Well, that amiable dunce won the Cold War.

They tried it, to a lesser degree, with George Bush in 1988 when he squared off against Michael Dukakis. How could he possibly match the policy wonkness of the former governor of Massachusetts?

It was his son, though, George W. Bush, who had to weather the stronger attack. He was just a cowboy, out of his league, merely a C student. He wasn’t smart enough to lead the country. What we needed was that super-smart challenger Al Gore. After all, he was on the cutting edge of understanding that we were all going to die unless we ceased emitting carbon. He was the champion of the intellectual elite.

In the Bush reelection year of 2004, John Kerry was the epitome of all that was cosmopolitan, cultured, and oh-so-French. Bush couldn’t even compete with Sen. Kerry’s brain power. Or so we were told.

In 2008, progressives nearly fainted when Sarah Palin was added to the Republican ticket. How could this Caribou Barbie be a serious vice presidential candidate? In fact, they realized she was a serious candidate, so the strategy was employed once again—ridicule her as a lightweight. Ignore her accomplishments as Alaska’s governor and paint her as a joke. The joke now appears to be on them as she is more influential than ever.

But of course she’s influential in circles of low-educated, backward folks who inhabit the great hinterland between the beautiful people who populate the coasts. You know, the area where no one of their social status should ever have to hang out.

That’s right, she’s the darling of those stupid Tea Partiers. Now the progressive elite have an entire class of people to denigrate. Unfortunately for them, a New York Times story recently carried the strange news that those despised Tea Partiers were actually better educated than the general population and they are financially better off than the national average.

That’s disturbing to the powers-that-be. President Obama made fun of them last week. He thinks their ideas are radical and foolish. Does he even know the source of those ideas?

If he finds their ideas ludicrous, he must really be in stitches over the Federalist Papers and the Constitution—because that’s where the ideas come from.

It’s time we wise up to the “stupid” strategy and see it for what it really is: a false portrayal of political opponents that is downright dishonest.

The Future of the Republican Party?

I went to a fundraiser last evening here in Lakeland, Florida, for senatorial candidate Marco Rubio. Rubio was there and spoke about his basic beliefs. He was articulate, principled, and devoted to constitutionalism.

He is someone I can support enthusiastically.

When National Review put him on its cover many months ago, he was behind Florida governor Charlie Crist by about 40 points. Today, he is leading Crist by nearly that same margin.

This has been a turnaround that is stunning to political pros. What it shows, though, is that the conventional wisdom isn’t always right.

Is Rubio a symbol of the new direction of the Republican party? We can’t know for sure just yet—not until we see how many others of his brand rise to the top.

But there is hope.